It's February! The month when hearts, kisses and huggable stuffed animals abound—and you're constantly reminded: All you need is love.
But we think there's something else you need too. (Hint: It’s green, not pink.)
You got it: money! And not just cash—you’ll also need the knowledge and skills to manage it well.
That's why we’ve rounded up five to-dos designed to help you stay on top of your finances this February. We’ll discuss taxes, credit scores and, in keeping with the theme of the month, tips for handling money in your relationship.
To-Do #1: Get Your Credit Score. Deadline: Monday, Feb. 9
You’ve been looking forward to this moment for the past three months: No, not giving your partner his Valentine's Day card—checking your credit score! Those three digits play a huge role in determining the rates you receive on mortgages and other types of loans, so log on to a site like Credit Karma to check your credit score for free. Lower than you expected? Check out these simple strategies to help boost your number.
To-Do #2: Talk Money With Your Partner. Deadline: Friday, Feb. 13
Let’s talk about cash, baby. Sharing the details of your financial life might be a little uncomfortable—but it’s a crucial part of being in a serious relationship, since it affects everything from child-rearing to whether you order takeout this week. Potential discussion points include financial goals, how you’ll merge your accounts, and what each partner can spend without consulting the other.
To-Do #3: Fill Out the FAFSA. Deadline: Monday, Feb. 16
If you or your kid is planning to start college this fall, now’s the time to submit your FAFSA, or government application for financial aid. The forms are released in January, and the deadline for completing them varies by state. But it’s best to do so as soon as possible, as many schools grant aid on a first-come, first-served basis. And remember, even if you submitted the FAFSA last year, you’ll have to complete a new form if you’re requesting aid again.
To-Do #4: Prep for Tax Season. Deadline: Monday, Feb. 23
April 15 may seem like a lifetime away, but guess what? It’s just around the corner, and it’s time to start gathering your paperwork. By early February you should have received your tax forms, such as a W-2 from your employer or 1099s for supplementary income. You’ll also want to round up other information that you’ll need to do your taxes, including records of charitable donations and receipts for expenses you plan to itemize.
To-Do #5: Launch a New Healthy Habit. Deadline: Saturday, Feb. 28
Your motivation to work out daily may have disappeared by the second week of January, but we’re giving you another chance. Whether it’s ditching the soda you slurp down every day at lunch or resolving to start meditating every morning, set one health-related goal to strive toward. Not only can you reap the benefits in terms of a stronger body—but you may also see the effects in your bank account, since healthier people tend to be better money managers. So here’s to health, wealth and happiness!
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. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or quoted in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services, and the views expressed are their own. 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.