By: Laura Walton AFC®
With the 4th of July coming next Tuesday, many of us will have a little extra time on our hands. I’ve got a couple of ideas for you.
There is, of course, vacation. Husband Dave passed on a fun idea from the Wall Street Journal. It’s the brainchild of a creative travel company, Pack Up + Go. The concept is that you tell them your available dates, budget and interests (dine like the locals, art, outdoor activities) and they pick the destination and plan every detail of your 3-day getaway. A week ahead they tell you what weather to expect and a few tips on what to bring, i.e. swim fins or party shoes. And then you’re off to your surprise adventure!
On the other hand, you could take a few hours between picnics and fireworks to review your finances. Admittedly this sounds a lot less fun than a Pack Up + Go surprise getaway but there’s a twist. John Stephens, CEO of TCI Wealth Advisors, forwarded a New York Times article with a link to an interactive financial to-do list. Here’s the intro:
31 Steps to a Financial Tuneup
Taking time out to put your personal finances in gear can reap both immediate and long-term benefits, from cashing gift cards to reallocating investments. This checklist can help you formulate a strategy, providing tips, the time needed to achieve them, and links to additional resources. For each category, Ron Lieber, the Your Money columnist, offers his insights on video. You can customize your list by removing items to suit your strategy, and then print a personalized list of the items you plan on tackling today.
As I read down the list of items, I realized that a word of caution was needed. Just because an item is on the list doesn’t mean it should be on your list. The list has to be tailored to meet your financial goals. For example, if the choice is between adding $1500 to your Roth IRA or making an extra mortgage payment, I’d come down on the side of your Roth contribution.
The list includes items like shopping your insurance coverage or asking your wireless carrier for a better deal. I hear from clients frequently about saving hundreds of dollars by taking the time to do these kinds of tasks.
The New York Times article highlights Sun Trust Bank’s financial wellness program for its 24,000 workers. Bank management realized that although their employees worked in banking, they were no better informed about personal finance than the general public. Their six-hour training culminates in a “day of purpose” – a day off given to employees to focus on their finances, to work down their to-do lists.
Maybe you can squeeze in a day, or at least a few hours, of purpose over this holiday. Whether you do or don’t, enjoy the 4th!