This post is excerpted from the Ultimate 2014 Financial Calendar.
With the winter chill in the rearview mirror, we're psyched to finally head outdoors and take advantage of sunnier skies and brand-new blossoms.
But just like your spring flowers need a little nurturing this time of year, so do your finances. That's why we've compiled five to-dos for you to tackle this month. Some you'll likely complete in just five minutes, while others might require a little more of your free time, but all will help to set you up for financial progress. Try your hand at these timely spring tasks:
1. Check in on Your Goals. Due Date: Monday, May 5
Can you believe it's been four months since you pinned down your New Year's resolution? We hope that's given you time to make progress on your dreams—whether that's paying off the last few thousand off your student loans or socking away enough cash for a first home. But if you've encountered some bumps along the way, don't worry—now's the time to reassess. The LearnVest Money Center tracks your progress for you, so you can check in to see how you're doing. Losing steam after months of hard work? Learn these four psychological tricks to reach your money goals faster.
2. Pull a Copy of Your Credit Report. Due Date: Monday, May 12
It's almost that time of year when students anxiously await their end-of-year report cards before taking off for the summer. While you may not be in school anymore, it's still a prime time to check a report card of your own: your credit report. This basic rundown of your financial life documents everything from your credit card payments (and if they're on time ... or not) to your mortgage. You can pull it for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) to review the details and ensure that no errors have creeped up from the last time you looked. Spot something fishy? Learn how to dispute an error on your report.
3. Research Whether Your Child Qualifies for Scholarships. Due Date: Friday, May 16
If the end of another school year means your child is nearing high school graduation, it's time to focus on your next hurdle: college tuition. Set aside an hour or so to research financial aid opportunities, like the College Board's Scholarship Search, which provides details on more than 2,200 programs. Last year, roughly 2 million students missed out on government grants—simply because they didn't apply. Make sure you're not one of them by learning the ins and outs of financial aid now.
4. Check Your Credit Score. Due Date: Monday, May 19
If your credit report is like a report card for grown-ups, then your credit score is your GPA. Graded on a scale of 300 to 850, this three-digit number helps determine the interest rates on loans you apply for—and a higher one could mean big savings on interest payments over the life of the loan. Last month, we featured the story of one woman who almost lost the house of her dreams because she hadn't been monitoring her credit score. Start taking control of yours by reviewing your score for free on CreditKarma. If it's lower than you'd like, dig into our step-by-step guide to help improve your number.
5. Look Into Starting a Side Gig. Due Date: Monday, May 26
Here at LearnVest, we've dedicated this month to helping you grow your income. Stay tuned for thematic stories throughout the next few weeks—everything from mastering the art of a counteroffer to how one man holds down a lucrative, part-time side gig on top of his 9-to-5. Once you've soaked up some inspiration, we'd like you to tackle this to-do: Research how you might bump up your income this year. Could you bring in extra cash using an existing skill? Or have you always been itching to try your hand at a side business? Well, now's the time—and this month, we'll help you get there.
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.