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End of Year Financial Check-in


Do you know what your financial situation is? When was the last time you really went through your finances top to bottom? 

With the end of the year approaching, the holiday season beginning, and New Years just around the corner, now is a great time to really analyze your finances. This can help you be informed going into next year and give you clear goals to work towards. We’ve got a list of common financial areas for your check-in.

Do You Have Enough Money Saved Up?

parents with a child in a snowstormSavings are an essential aspect of your financial health. Ideally, you should have around three to six months of living expenses saved at all times. It’s important to have around this amount in case of emergencies. A health crisis, an unexpected loss of job, or even needing to move suddenly can all result in needing to live off your savings for a while.

Calculate how much money you need to survive for a month. That includes housing, utilities, car payments, cell phone, food, and whatever else you need to survive. Then, multiply that by three. That’s how much you need in savings for three months. Double it again for six months. 

If you fall short on your savings, it’s time to tighten the budget and make a plan. Cut unnecessary expenses, try to find places to save money, and put that extra cash in your savings. Try your best to not touch it until you reach your savings goal. 

How Healthy Is Your Credit Score?

woman with coffee and a cell phoneKeeping an eye on your credit score is just a good habit, but now is the time to analyze both your credit score and credit reports. Not only is this important to help your credit score grow, but it can also help you catch and prevent identity theft early.

First, look at your FICO credit score. To have a “good” credit score, you need to have at least a 670, a 740 to 799 are very good scores, and 800 and up is excellent. If you don’t have at least a 670 credit score, you need to focus on growing your credit. A better score can mean lower interest rates and getting approved for better loans. If you are still confused about your credit score and how to grow up, check out Pioneer's free Credit Checkup. It can help you understand your current credit situation and give you steps on how to improve.

If you’re looking to raise your credit score, Pioneer offers a Credit Builder Loan. It’s a reliable way to increase your credit score while also saving money.

Next, you should request your yearly free copy of your credit reports from the credit bureaus. This is so you can make sure everything is correct, up to date, and there is no suspicious activity on your credit. Any mistakes on your credit could negatively impact your score for years to come. If you spot something suspicious on your credit report, like a credit card you didn’t open, it could be a sign your identity has been stolen and the thieves are waiting to see if you are paying attention. If you do see suspicious activities on your credit, you should contact the credit bureaus to lock down your credit till you get it all figured out.

Are You On Track For Retirement?

old lady with young womanWhether you are contributing to a 401k, an IRA, or have some other plan for retirement, now is a good time to check in on your retirement fund. It doesn't matter if you are fresh in the workforce, or a veteran on your way out, a yearly look at your retirement plan is a good habit.

Retirement plans often feel like something you work on once, then put into motion and forget about for years. But that isn’t the approach you should take for your retirement. Yearly, or even more, you should be analyzing and evaluating your retirement approach. Don’t dump years and thousands of dollars into a plan that might not pay out or cover you in your later years. 

If you want to open a new IRA to save for retirement, Pioneer can help. Easy to open, you can set your direct deposit to send a portion of your paycheck straight into it!

Do You Have Outstanding Debts?

sad woman looking at laptopOne of the most popular New Year's resolutions is to pay off debts, and for good reason. Debt, especially credit card debt, can be a weight on your back that never lets up. Going into a new year, getting rid of debt should be a financial priority. Even if they are new from holiday shopping, pay off your debt as fast as possible.

If you have multiple debts around, like several credit cards or small loan debts, you should pay them off quickly. You can either use the snowball or avalanche methods to get rid of them. Snowballing is paying off the smallest loan first with any extra money you have, then once it’s gone, taking that amount and paying off the next smallest. That process continues till all debts are paid. The opposite is the avalanche method, which is paying off the biggest debt first and then once it’s gone, putting that to paying off the next largest till they are all gone.

Do you have quite a bit of debt and don’t think you can pay the minimums each month? It’s time to consolidate your debt. You get all of your debts under one loan and instead of having to pay five or six minimums each month, you only pay one. Plus, taking credit card debts and putting them with a loan likely means lower interest rates. If you are looking for help consolidating your debts, Pioneer offers our Signature Loan, a great tool for grouping your credit card debts into a single place.

Check and Update Your Budget

Having a budget is a must, especially in today’s world of inflation and rapid change. It’s where you track your normal expenses, calculate how much money you need to save, and is the jumping off point of every financial plan. 

But when was the last time you actually looked at yours?

Costs go up, prices change, and hopefully your income is moving upwards too. In an ideal world, anytime money changes significantly, you’re updating your budget, but most people forget to do so. Your first thought when your insurance goes up isn’t to update the budget.

Now is the time to do all the updating on your budget. Track monthly, quarterly and yearly expenses, along with your income changes. Make sure everything is still aligned and you are moving towards your financial goals. If you’ve reached a goal, set a new one. 

Never made a budget? Has your budget gotten too complex and hard to make sense off? There is help out there. Pioneer members get free access to GreenPath Financial Wellness, who’s financial counselors can help you with your budget. 

Check out GreenPath Financial Wellness

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