July 17, 2009
As we move through one of the most financially tumultuous years in many decades, some economists feel the worst may be over. But today's continuing high unemployment rates, troubled housing market and tight credit conditions leave many people feeling anxious about the future.
Against that backdrop, this is a good time to examine your current financial state. Ask yourself where you want to be by year's end and how you may need to change course now in order to reach those goals. Here are a few action steps:
Reexamine your budget. A lot could have changed since you last examined your household budget. You may need to tweak your spending and saving habits to get back on track:
If you need a budget refresher course, Visa Inc.'s free personal financial management site, Practical Money Skills for Life, features a step-by-step guide to building a budget, including several interactive calculators (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/budgeting.)
Taxes. Nobody likes overpaying their taxes or underpaying and getting penalized the following April. Ask yourself:
Charitable contributions. If you don't have charitable contributions automatically deducted, tally up what you've contributed so far and decide if it's in line with your goal for the year. Don't wait until the expensive month of December to make last-minute contributions.
Reimbursement accounts. If you participate in employer-sponsored health care or dependent care reimbursement accounts, determine whether you're on track to exhaust your account balances. Again, don't wait until year's end to scramble for qualified expenses that will allow you to fully benefit from their tax advantages.
Regardless of whether the worst is behind us or not, it makes sense to get your own financial house in order to weather this economic storm and any future ones.
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