Move over Freddy Kreuger and scary Halloween films. Fall financial season is here.
It’s a season of change. It’s also the downtime between the two most expensive and busiest seasons of the year: holiday spending in the winter and travel in the summer.
Fall is also the perfect opportunity to check-in on your progress, end the year strong, and make goals for 2023.
In the interest of honoring the season change and conquering financial fears, let’s take a look at how to take advantage of the fall to focus on your finances.
First, understand your relationship with money.
It’s a lot harder to manage money if you don’t understand your relationship with it. Do you love it, hate it, or feel indifferent towards it? Because how you feel impacts how you spend, and whatever your relationship is, now is the perfect time to take a step back and understand it a bit better.
Think about how you feel when you have money. Do you feel happy, relieved, or excited? Or do you feel anxious, stressed, or guilty? These feelings can give you a clue as to how healthy your relationship with money actually is.
Practical ways to improve your relationship with money
One way to do this is to make sure that you’re spending money on things that are important to you. This can help you to feel good about the money you’re spending, and it can also help you to stay focused on your goals.
Another way to improve your relationship with money is to ensure you’re not letting money control your life. This means being mindful of your spending and not letting money dictate your decisions. It also means being mindful of your emotions and not letting money control how you feel.
Lastly, you could start practicing moments of mindfulness which has been shown to reduce moments of anxiety and impulse spending. You could try traditional journaling or log your mindset daily in the nav.it money app.
Having trouble getting started?
Making these changes in your relationship with money can be difficult, but it’s worth it. A healthy relationship with money can lead to a happier, more stress-free life.
Speaking of stress…
Then, figure out where you are today financially.
Fall is the perfect time to take stock of your finances and figure out where you stand. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Know your net worth.
This is the first step to understanding your financial health. To calculate it, simply subtract your total liabilities (what you owe) from your total assets (how much what you have is worth). This serves as a great baseline.
PSA: Don’t freak out if you check your brokerage or retirement accounts during a recession. Dips in the market are normal, so stay focused on your long-term savings goals.
2. Track your spending.
By knowing where your money is going, you can change your spending habits and save money.
Tracking your spending is easy, and there are several ways to do it. You can use a spreadsheet, budgeting software, or even a simple pen and paper. Whichever method you choose, make sure you track your spending for at least two weeks to get a good idea of your spending patterns.
Once your spending is tracked, look at where your money is going. Are you spending money on things you don’t need? Are there ways you can cut back?
Small changes in your spending habits can make a big difference in your financial situation. So take control of your money this fall and start tracking your spending. It could be the best decision you ever make.
3. Make sure you know your monthly expenses.
With all the expenses of buying gifts, travel and food, it can be easy to let your monthly budget fall by the wayside during the holidays. If you’re not careful, those holiday expenses can quickly spiral out of control.
That’s why fall is the perfect time to take a close look at your monthly expenses and make sure you’re staying on track.
You could start by logging into all of your different utilities and making a list in your spreadsheet or on a piece of paper. Or you could download the Nav.it money app and connect your bank account. With the Bills tab, you can plan for every payment.
By keeping an eye on your spending and making adjustments where necessary, you can avoid financial stress this holiday season.
Define and assess your financial goals this fall.
The nitty-gritty of personal finances can make even the pros sweat. That’s why the cooling temperatures of fall are the perfect time to tackle some of our biggest financial hurdles: goals.
Here are some tips for assessing your financial goals this season:
1. When was the last time you checked in on your progress? Whether you’re saving for a specific goal or just working on building up your overall savings, it’s important to check in on your progress regularly. This will help you stay on track and make adjustments as needed.
2. Make a plan. If you don’t have a specific plan for how you’re going to reach your financial goals, now is the time to make one. Having a plan will help you stay focused and on track financially.
3. Set realistic goals. It’s important to set goals that are realistic and achievable. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you haven’t made a lot of progress, revisit your goal. Is it meeting this criteria:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound
4. Take action. Once you’ve assessed your financial situation and made a plan, it’s time to take action. This may include making changes to your budget, increasing your savings, or looking for new ways to make money.
5. Stay motivated. Meeting your financial goals is not always easy, but it’s important to stay motivated. Remember why you’re working towards your goals and keep your eye on the prize.
Fall is the perfect time to assess your financial goals and ensure you’re on track. By taking the time to do this now, you’ll set yourself up for success in the future. So, don’t wait, get started today!
Review your benefits at work.
Often in October or November, open enrollment is the time of year where your human resources department will dump pamphlets and info-graphs into your inbox and add reminders to your boss’s Google Calendar. For employees, it’s time to sign up for benefits at work.
Your job package is so much bigger than your salary. Here are things to look at when contemplating your job benefits.
Do your research to see the going salary for your industry and ideal job. You’ll gain a baseline understanding of the range you can expect to get paid in your industry and city.
Common workplace benefits include health insurance, equity, retirement plans like 401k matching, and FSA, HSA, or HRAs.
Fall is the perfect time to self-reflect to decide what benefits to take advantage of during open enrollment at work
Is your family size changing? Do you even wear glasses? Can you find more cost-effective dental care through a community dentist than using dental insurance? If you follow a co-worker’s recommendations or use default options, you could miss out on important benefits that suit you or your family.
Consider your actual needs when reviewing things like your health insurance coverage, life insurance, and disability insurance.
Enrolling in employee-sponsored life insurance
When it comes to life insurance, most companies offer smaller term coverage (typically one-time income) as well as buy-up options. Will your family be able to support themselves with the total loss of household income if the worst happens? You may need to consider increasing your coverage or looking for a private plan.
Enrolling in employee-sponsored disability coverage
As Jen Sapel points out, “If you are sick or injured and unable to work, how will you pay your bills? Your medical insurance will pay for your medical care, but how will you buy groceries or pay the mortgage? Disability income insurance replaces your income in that event.” That’s what disability coverage is for.
We know very few young professionals that can live, save for retirement, continue to pay for their health insurance, and cover their health expenses if they don’t have an emergency fund. If your employer offers a disability plan, open enrollment is the time to sign up for it.
Revisit or make a spending plan this fall
Pumpkin spice everything is back in stores and in the coffee shops. Fall is officially here!
And what better way to celebrate the season than by taking a good, hard look at your finances and looking at your budget? That’s right, we said it: budgeting can be fun! (Okay, maybe not *fun*, but definitely satisfying.)
Here’s why fall is the perfect time to get your financial life in order with a budget:
1. You’ve just finished up summer vacation.
After a summer of spending money on travel, food, and fun, it’s time to buckle down and save. A budget will help you do that.
2. The holidays are around the corner.
Start the holiday season off right by getting your finances in order now. That way, you can enjoy the holidays stress-free.
3. Cold weather is coming.
No, we’re not talking about the snow (although that can be a factor, too). We’re talking about the fact that you’re likely to spend more money in the winter months on things like heat and electricity. Having a budget will help you stay on track.
4. You’re probably getting a tax refund.
If you are expecting a tax refund, now is the perfect time to use that money to set up a budget for the year ahead.
5. New year, new budget.
The start of a new season is the perfect time to start fresh with your finances. A fall budget will help you get a head start on the New Year.
How to make a fall budget
It’s time to get cozy… with your numbers. Creating a budget is actually pretty simple. Just follow these easy steps:
1. Figure out your income. This includes money from your job, investments, and any other source of money.
2. Track your spending. For a month or two, write down everything you spend money on. This includes necessary expenses like rent and food, as well as discretionary spending like entertainment and shopping.
3. Compare your income and spending. How much money do you have coming in each month? How much money are you spending? This will help you figure out where you can cut back on your spending.
4. Make a plan. Once you know how much money you have and where it’s going, because you’ve categorized it, you can start to make a plan for saving money. Decide how much money you want to save each month, and then make sure your spending doesn’t exceed that amount.
Following these steps will help you create a budget that works for you. You could also just use a money tracking app like Nav.it that will automatically help you budget once you connect your bank account.
Invest in yourself
Investing in yourself is one of the best things you can do for your financial future. Whether it’s taking a class, career planning, starting a side hustle, or simply reading articles like this one, increasing your knowledge and understanding of money will pay off dividends down the road.
This fall, you should definitely start or reassess your emergency fund
If you’re like most people, you’re probably feeling pretty stressed out about the state of the economy. A recession might be on the horizon, and that means your financial situation could take a hit.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself during times of economic uncertainty is to have an emergency fund. This is money that you set aside specifically for unexpected expenses or a loss of income.
Ideally, your emergency fund should be equivalent to three to six months of living expenses. But if you don’t have that much saved up yet, don’t worry. Even a small amount of money can help you weather a financial setback.
Where to stash your emergency fund
If you’re not sure how to start an emergency fund, there are a few different options. You could open a savings account specifically for this purpose, or you could set up a dedicated account with a specific bank or credit union.
Another option is to use a money market account, which offers higher interest rates than a traditional savings account. This can help your money grow more quickly, giving you a larger cushion to fall back on in an emergency.
Whatever option you choose, make sure you’re automatically transferring money into your account each month. This will help you build up your fund gradually without having to think about it too much.
If you already have an emergency fund, now is a good time to reassess it. Make sure your money is still allocated in a way that will best serve you during a recession.
And if you don’t have an emergency fund yet, now is the perfect time to start one. With the possibility of a recession looming, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for the worst.
Face your money problems this fall: Pay off debt this fall
It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and thoughts turn to… money. That’s right, fall is the perfect time to get your finances in order and start paying off debt.
There are a few reasons why fall is a great time to focus on debt repayment. First, many people receive annual bonuses or raises at this time of year. This extra money can be put towards paying down debt.
Second, the holidays are coming up and that means increased spending. By starting to pay off debt now, you can avoid adding to your balances and getting even further into debt.
Finally, winter is a time when many people find themselves short on cash. By starting to pay off debt now, you can avoid the stress of debt collectors calling and money problems during the winter months.
So how do you go about paying off debt in the fall? Here are a few tips:
– Stick to your spending plan: This is key to any money management plan, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to pay off debt. Figure out how much money you have coming in and going out each month. Then, create a plan for where every dollar will go. Be sure to include money for debt repayment in your budget.
– Talk to your creditors: If you’re having trouble making payments, reach out to your creditors and let them know. Many companies are willing to work with you to create a payment plan that fits your budget.
– Use extra money wisely: If you get a bonus or raise at work, use it to accelerate your debt repayment. You can also put windfalls, such as tax refunds, towards debt.
– Create a debt repayment plan: Once you know how much money you have to work with each month, create a plan for paying off your debts. Start with the debt that has the highest interest rate and work your way down.
Paying off debt can be challenging, but it’s worth it in the long run. By following these tips, you can get your debt under control and start enjoying the financial freedom that comes with being debt-free.
Prepare for the new year
It’s never too early to start preparing for the new year, and that includes getting your finances in order. If you’ve assessed your goals, started tracking your spending and made a budget, now we can look to how to prepare for the new year.
That includes investing
Investing money can be a great way to grow your wealth over time. But where do you start? And how do you know which investments are right for you? When it comes to investing, there is no “one size fits all” approach – what works for someone else may not be right for you.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your investing journey this fall:
– Figure out your financial goals. What do you hope to achieve by investing? Are you looking to grow your money over the long term, or do you need access to it sooner? (Look into short-term versus long-term investing.)
– Understand the different types of investments. There are many different ways to invest your money, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
– Consider working with a financial advisor. A professional can help you choose the right investments for your goals and risk tolerance.
Start by living below your means now
Living below your means is a simple but powerful way to stay on top of your finances. When you live within your means, you are spending less money than you earn and saving the rest. This allows you to build up your savings, pay down debt, and invest for the future.
Save each month
Saving money each month is a habit that will serve you well throughout your life. Setting aside money in a savings account, even if it’s just a small amount, is a great way to make sure you have money available when you need it.
Get help from a pro
If all else fails, work with a pro.
Money is something that everyone has to deal with, but not everyone is good at dealing with money. This is where money coaching comes in. Money coaches can help you get a handle on your finances and make better money decisions.
1. You’ll learn how to save money.
A money coach can help you develop healthy spending and saving habits. You’ll learn how to set aside money each month for savings and emergencies, and you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases.
2. You’ll get out of debt.
If you’re struggling with debt, a money coach can help you create a plan to pay it off. You’ll learn about different payment options and strategies, and you’ll be able to create a budget that works for you.
3. You’ll achieve your financial goals.
Whether you want to save for a down payment on a house, retire early, or just have more money in the bank, a money coach can help you develop a plan to reach your goals. They can help you track your progress and make adjustments to your budget as needed.