Happy birthday! How are you celebrating? Whether you’re going all out or keeping it low-key, your birthday is the perfect time for a financial wellness checkup. Check out these five tips:
1. Celebrate Your Financial Milestones
Take a moment to congratulate yourself on any financial milestones you achieved since your last birthday. Did you start or hit a savings goal? Pay down any debt? Make a plan to reduce expenses? No matter how big or small, celebrate a job well done!
2. Review Beneficiaries, Joint Owners, & Contact Information
Review your designated beneficiaries on all accounts, like your savings, IRA, insurance, and 401(k). Make sure the person you originally named is still the appropriate beneficiary. While you’re doing this, review any joint owners of your accounts. Overlooking this may leave former spouses, ex-roommates, or other “out-of-date” people with access to your funds. Even if there are no changes, it’s wise to review your account information annually to ensure everything is accurate. On that same note, review the contact information on your accounts to ensure the phone number, email, and addresses are all current and accurate.
3. Review Your Social Security Statement
Take a look at your Social Security Statement. You can access this for free at ssa.gov, under my Social Security. Your statement will include a record of your work earnings, as well as your projected Social Security benefits. Take note of your projected earnings to help assess your retirement savings strategy in the coming year.
4. Check Out Your Free Annual Credit Report
Make it a habit to review your credit report every year to keep on top of any errors and help protect your credit score. If you haven’t done so this year, your birthday is the perfect day to take a look. You can order your free credit report every 12 months at www.AnnualCreditReport.com, a service authorized by federal law thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Common errors include duplicate accounts, closed accounts reporting as open, accounts belonging to someone with a similar name as yours, accounts reported incorrectly as late or delinquent, and instances of identity theft. If your credit report has errors, notify the credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, and/or TransUnion) in writing. They have 30 days to research and remove incorrect information. Then, set a reminder to review your report again on your next birthday.
5. Give the “Future You” a Birthday Gift
Set a savings goal as a special birthday gift to your future self. Would you like to celebrate your next birthday debt-free? Or maybe with a staycation at a local beachside resort? Set a goal, determine how much you need to save, and split the amount into monthly “payments” to your savings account between now and then. Then in 365 days, you’ll be ready to celebrate!