This post is excerpted from our Ultimate 2013 Financial Calendar.
As the days of summer dwindle, it's time to make sure your finances are keeping pace with the changing seasons.
First of all, open enrollment season is upon us, so it's time to evaluate your insurance policies. Autumn's approach also means back-to-school season—and back to thinking about saving for your child's college—but we also have some fun end-of-summer recipes to close the season with a bang.
Last but certainly not least, don't forget to check up on your credit score and budget to ensure your finances stay up to snuff.
1. Prepare for Open Enrollment. Deadline: Saturday, August 3
Open enrollment is the short period of time when employers let their employees make changes to their insurance policies, as well as set up or adjust contributions to accounts like HSAs or FSAs. Review your current benefits, find out your options and decide whether you need to make any changes. Additionally, take this opportunity to sign up for long-term disability if this is an appropriate choice for you. If you have children or other dependents, make sure to look into life insurance.
2. Taste the End of Summer. Deadline: Saturday, August 10
After checking off your first financial to-do, feel free to reward yourself with a budget-friendly but decadent treat. In fact, you can use these six apps to help you find the best of the best in chocolate and wine. But there are also ways to prepare budget-friendly gourmet food at home, and if you're part of a CSA program, this is your last chance to make the most of summer produce. You can feature these fun recipes for summer fruit or inventive barbecue sides at an end-of-summer bash, or kick it up with a spin on all-American favorites. And with prices at Starbucks on the rise, you might want to skip your usual coffee and instead cool down at home with refreshing frosty treats.
3. Re-Evaluate Your Budget. Deadline: Saturday, August 17
How are you doing with that budget you set up in January? Does it still make sense? How does it compare with the 50/20/30 rule? Can you cut back in any categories, or do you need to reallocate resources? Reviewing your budget now will help to ensure that you stay on track to meet your financial goals. If you need a refresher course in how budgeting should work, we can help with that.
4. Set Up College Savings. Deadline: Saturday, August 24
Back-to-school season is approaching. If you're a parent and you haven’t done so yet, set up a college savings account, like a 529 plan, in order to start saving for college tuition. Accumulating savings now can help you avoid having to leverage your home equity or take out other burdensome loans to finance your children's education, and hopefully help them to avoid the crushing weight of debt themselves.
5. Check Your Credit Score. Deadline: Saturday, August 31
As in February and May, review your credit score for free at Credit Karma to make sure those three digits stay steady—or keep going up! If there’s a dramatic drop, take a close look at your accounts to see if there’s been any strange activity. While the perfect score may be difficult to attain, keeping an eye on your credit will help you get low interest rates. Swiping responsibly can also help you earn credit card points tantamount to "free money," but it's also possible to improve your score without using credit cards.