Picture this. It’s the Christmas holiday and you’re taking several well-deserved vacation days. You’re stretched out on the couch with a belly full of holiday goodness. You’ve napped, perused a book, and conquered a few family members in a rousing game of Monopoly.
If you’re anything like me, after a couple days you may start feeling a little antsy to get something done--but “working” will get you chided by your family, right?
Well if you need a little “work around” here are a few quick things you can do to shape up your financial life, each one literally taking about 5 minutes to complete. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something, and no one can blame you for working too much.
1. Resolve to do something meaningful
You don’t even have to open your laptop for this one. While you’re still nestled into that comfy nook on the couch, take 5 minutes to dream a little. Specifically ask: How can your family life be a little bit more fun, fulfilling, or purposeful next year?
For me and Kellie, it’s planning an annual trip to St. George to escape the doldrums of Star Valley’s mid-winter. This takes some extra saving and planning, but it’s awesome! It all starts with an idea.
2. Update your beneficiaries
That investment account of yours could also use a little attention. When was the last time you updated your beneficiaries? This is an important step for a wide variety of family situations, whether it’s after a recent marriage, a new child joining the family, or a divorce.
If something happens to you, it will save time and money if your beneficiaries are clearly listed in your financial accounts.
If you are an investment client of Hale Financial Solutions, you can use this link to find instructions on updating your beneficiaries.
3. Help fund a child or grandchild’s education
Opening a college savings account (529 account) for a child or grandchild takes little time, and it can be a huge step toward helping your loved ones.
529 accounts let you save and invest money for college expenses. As long as the money is used to cover these costs, the principal and earnings are withdrawn from the account tax-free.
The process for opening one is easy and most states have their own 529 plans, some even with unique tax advantages for state residents.
4. Double check your auto and property insurance coverage
I did this just the other day after wondering to myself, “How much am I actually paying for my insurance and what am I getting for it?” You’d think a financial planner would know better!
I was glad I took some time to review it. I didn’t need to make any changes and my coverage amounts were good, but it’s worth seeing this information from time to time, lest you find yourself in a fender bender during Christmas break and wondering “Did I renew my auto insurance policy last month?”
This one may feel like a pain, but I’m telling you--it’s worth it.
5. Get started organizing your financial documents
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh geez, Tim, now you’ve gone from bad to worse!” Embarking on this little venture is certain to make many cringe, but stay with me. All I’m suggesting is you take 5 minutes to start the process.
This could be as simple as rounding up all your printed statements and putting them into one big stack, or taking it a step further and sorting the statements into categories--checking, insurance, investments, and so on. Maybe it’s testing a resetting the passwords on your financial accounts to make sure you can quickly connect. If you can make a good start at it, you may find some added enthusiasm to keep the ball rolling.
And with that, you’ve completed your list of holiday financial “honey do’s” and you can start up another game of Monopoly!