This post is excerpted from the Ultimate 2014 Financial Calendar.
Are you ready to celebrate?! National Savings Month, that is.
It's a good reminder to review your progress and make sure you're still set up for savings success—before you slip into summer relaxation mode.
To help, we put together five to-dos for July that may help keep you on the right path to reach your 2014 money goals. But before you buckle down and crunch the numbers, have some (financially savvy) fun with this month's holiday sales.
1. Take Advantage of Independence Day Sales. Deadline: Friday, July 4
Consider capitalizing on holiday sales to purchase big-ticket items, like a new major kitchen appliance. But don't forget to do some research before you walk out the door to make sure you're getting the best deals available. (And don't just use the sales as an excuse for a shopping spree!) While you're out, avoid these items that don't give you enough bang for your buck this year.
2. Get Up to Speed on the One-Number Budget. Deadline: Wednesday, July 9
This month, we're introducing a more flexible budgeting framework—a good alternative for those of us who find it hard to track our spending every time we swipe our debit cards. Here's how it works: From your take-home pay, subtract your fixed expenses, like rent; your financial goals, such as paying off credit card debt; and the money you set aside to cover non-monthly expenses, like holiday gifts or taxes. What you're left with is the one number that matters (get it?): how much you should spend each month on flexible expenses like entertainment and eating out. Read the nitty-gritty details here, and start keeping track in your LearnVest.com account.
3. Beat the Heat (and Your Energy Bill). Deadline: Tuesday, July 15
Hot weather can up your energy bill (and gas consumption), so check out this tool to make sure you're in the appropriate range for your area. If you're overpaying, call up your providers to see if you can negotiate a better deal.
4. Boost Your Retirement Contributions. Deadline: Sunday, July 20
How much money are you putting aside for retirement each month? Now's the time to consider re-assessing—and up it a little if you are able to. For your 401(k), consider increasing your contributions by 1% until you max it out. And if you're not saving the maximum toward your IRA ($458.33 monthly or $541.66 if you're 50 or older, as of June 2014), try boosting your monthly contributions by $100. If you're already putting away the maximum amounts, make sure the rest of your retirement strategy is on track.
5. Tackle Your Top Savings Goal. Deadline: Thursday, July 24
Before you go into vacation mode in August, take a look at your non-retirement financial goals, like purchasing a home or saving for your wedding. If you're on track, but want to shorten your savings timeline, consider switching up your investment strategy. New to investing outside an employer-sponsored retirement plan? Read our checklist: I Want to Set Up an Investment Account.
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 people interviewed 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 in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.