April showers might bring May flowers, but more importantly, this time of year brings us ... Financial Literacy Month!
So in honor of the next four weeks being dedicated to all things money management, we're bringing you the following savvy moves, from checking in on your budget to getting those tax docs out the door. Consider them a brush up on the basics so your financial picture looks bright through spring.
1. Assess Your Budget. Deadline: Tuesday, April 5
Road trips, amusement parks and concerts all summer long sound great, but going into debt to afford them? Not so much. Prepare for your summer—and beyond—by making sure you're sticking to the budget you set at the beginning of 2016. How's that emergency fund looking? Are you ready to accelerate your debt payments, or maybe trim your monthly expenses? Set aside some time to review your past few months and plan for the ones ahead, even if it means reminding yourself of the One-Number Strategy to keep your financial plan on track.
2. Review Your Financial Aid Options. Deadline: Friday, April 8
High school seniors and their parents are likely weighing the big decisions that will affect their next four years. That's right—it's college decision season. And with that comes taking a look at your child's financial aid package to determine what makes the most sense for your family. Before you put down a deposit, consider this: You may be able to negotiate for more financial aid before even stepping foot on campus. While you're at it, start thinking about how you'll keep future college costs in check, and how you'll be splitting the bill with your soon-to-be college student.
3. Wrap Up Your Taxes. Deadline: Wednesday, April 13
The tax filing deadline is around the corner—this year, you'll want to have your documents e-filed or postmarked by Monday, April 18. As you wrap up this often nerve wracking to-do, be sure to steer clear of simple yet common mistakes, like forgetting to update your Social Security information or just plain getting the math wrong. If you tied the knot in 2015, here's how your paperwork will be different. And if you know you won't be able to make the deadline this year, read up on how to file for an extension.
4. Go Green. Deadline: Friday, April 22
Happy Earth Day! Not only can leading an environmentally conscious life mean doing good for the planet, it could also mean doing good for your wallet. And going green can be easier than you think. You don't have to live in a tiny house or grow all of your own food. Instead, consider these quick ways to cut down your energy consumption, like bringing lunch to work instead of ordering takeout or completing a home energy audit.
5. Check in on Your Retirement Savings. Deadline: Friday, April 29
We all know saving for retirement is the way to go, but it's often easier said than done. After all, with confusing terms like 401(k), IRA and rollover, the lingo itself can seem as complicated as a math equation. Brush up on these basic retirement terms to make sure you understand what type of account works for you and how you might contribute to it. And while there are different savings benchmarks you'll want to reach depending on your age, remember that it's never too early or too late to start your nest egg—even $50 a month can help you in the long run.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.