August is all about enjoying the lazy dog days of summer. But that's no excuse to get lazy when it comes to keeping tabs on your finances and working toward your money goals. Crank the AC, pour yourself an icy drink and start crossing these tasks off this month's financial to-do list.
1. Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund
Deadline: Friday, August 5
Maybe you dipped into your savings to pay for summer travel and fun. Or you started one a while back but found it hard to put in the right amount of rainy-day cash you really should have on hand. Either way, do your financial health a favor and get it up to speed. Use the simple 3-6-9 guideline to figure out how much to stash and keep it growing at a steady pace. Then find out what qualifies as an emergency, so you know when to dip into it and when to resist.
2. Create a Student Loan Repayment Plan
Deadline: Thursday, August 11
If you're a new college grad with debt in your name, start thinking of a game plan so you don't end up defaulting when that first payment is due. Break down your expected budget and expenses, weigh the benefits and risks of consolidation and take into account other factors so you start post-collegiate life on strong financial footing.
3. Assess Your Health Coverage
Deadline: Tuesday, August 16
During these laid-back August days, reevaluate how well your plan works for you and your family. You're more than halfway through the year so you'll have a good idea if you're racking up excessive out-of-pocket costs or paying premiums that are too high. It's also time to do the math to make sure you're using any Flexible Spending Accounts or Heath Savings Accounts properly. Learn more by taking our Midyear Health Care Checkup.
4. Teach Your Kids Back-to-School Money Lessons
Deadline: Wednesday, August 24
All those back-to-school shopping trips create teachable moments to demonstrate to young kids a little financial know-how. As you shop, walk your little ones through the process of comparing sale prices, why buying in bulk can pay off and the difference between things they need (notebooks, pens, new sneakers) and items they impulsively want (a fully loaded smartphone, for example). The money lessons learned by watching you use your financial savvy are priceless.
5. Sign Up for a Continuing Ed Course
Deadline: Wednesday, August 31
Speaking of school, consider taking a continuing ed or professional development course with a September start date. Download course catalogs from local colleges. Or do long-distance learning by checking out the online offerings from accredited universities across the country, aggregated under the site Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Another option is a self-paced web class like the ones offered by Udemy, Skillshare and Mediabistro. Mastering a new skill related to your career puts you in a better place for a promotion or salary boost. Plus, you may be able to deduct the cost if you fill out the 8863 form come tax season.
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.