Mid-Year Financial Check-In: Are You On Track To Reach Your Goals?

Lamar Watson, CFP®

Now is a great time to slow down and take stock of your entire financial picture, and assess your progress toward the goals you established at the beginning of the year. Then, it’s time to start lining up your year-end goals. Below are a few ways to check in on your financial health to ensure you're positioned for financial success.

Sometimes, getting your finances organized can be a daunting task, but by setting a few yearly goals, it can be easier than you think. If you're looking to organize, simplify, and automate your finances, feel free to look at the different ways you can work with us.

Check-In #1: Evaluate Current Debt And Spending

With your spending likely to increase toward the end of the year, if it hasn't already during the summer, now is a great time to evaluate your spending and any current debt you may have accumulated throughout the year.1,2

You may want to write down all debt currently owed, including credit cards, student loans, mortgages, and car payments. Be sure to also keep track of the minimum payment amounts and due dates. Once you have everything laid out and organized in one place, you can begin focusing on how to minimize or eliminate certain debts. For example, if you’ve been making regular payments to your credit card company, you could try negotiating a lower interest rate or look into transferring the debt to a card with a 0% interest rate offer on balance transfers. Seeing all your spending and debt in one place may sound stressful, but it’s an important first step in taking control and minimizing what you can.

We use an app that gives our clients the ability to see all of their assets and liabilities in one place. Then we help them implement strategies to pay down debt while balancing other goals. 

Check-In #2:Review Your Tax Withholding

Over the years, I've had new clients tell me they had a surprise $10,000 tax bill. To help prevent clients from a surprise tax bill, we use tools directly from the IRS to help our clients reduce their tax bills. 

You can use the Tax Withholding Estimator at IRS.gov, which can help you adjust what’s taken out of your pay so that you can get more of your money to save or pay down debt. Use the result to submit a new W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate to your employer if needed.

If you need additional help with taxes, tax preparation is now part of the ongoing financial planning program. This will be in addition to the Tax Report we already generate for our clients and the work we do with the IRS Withholding Calculator to help prevent our clients from getting a surprise tax bill.

What's My 2023 Tax Bracket?

Reviewing your tax return is an informative exercise to ensure you understand all your income sources and tax liabilities for the prior year.

As someone who is working, what tips should I consider when reviewing my return?

In this checklist, we highlight points to consider on your tax return if you're working, including:

  • Review your filing status. If you're married, should you automatically file jointly with your spouse, or might there be situations where you might consider filing separately?
  • If you have dependent children, you may be eligible for certain credits.
  • If you're divorced or widowed, there are filing steps for you to take depending upon timing and circumstances.
  • If you had investment income for the prior year, there are reporting issues that you will want to be sure you address in connection with this income.
  • If you owned tax-advantaged accounts during the prior tax year, there might be some reporting issues to consider. Did you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth? Did you contribute to an HSA or a 401(k) plan?
  • If you own rental real estate or if there are state-specific issues, there may be additional tax considerations you should be aware of.

Check-In #3: Readjust Your Retirement Fund

Are you saving enough to reach your retirement goals? If you contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement fund, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), take some time to check in on your account. This is especially important if you set automatic deposits a year or two ago and haven’t thought about it since. Is your target date fund really the best investment option for you? For 2023, the 401(k) contribution limit is $22,500 for those under 50 or $30,00 for those 50 and older. If you’re heading toward retirement and trying to make the most of your employer-sponsored plan, you now have the opportunity to save even more in your account.3

Do you know how much you need to retire? Our Financial Independence Presentation can show to show you the magic number you need to make work optional and how much you should aim to grow your net worth per year to reach Financial Independence.

Check-In #4: Refill Your Savings

With family vacations, weekend trips, and summer concerts, enjoying the warmer weather can be expensive. The temptation to tap into your savings is strong, and if you did, you’re not alone. But as we gear up for the holidays, now’s the perfect time to work on filling it right back up. If you set a savings goal for the year, do a quick progress report. Have you nearly reached your goal? Then you may want to challenge yourself to save even more. If you’re nowhere near it, focus on adjusting your spending habits to better support your savings goal.

What Accounts Should I Consider If I Want To Save More?

Check-In #5: Rethink Your Goals

Think back on everything that’s happened this year. It’s likely some unexpected events occurred. From unfortunate events, such as divorce, death, or property damage, to exciting celebrations, such as proposals, weddings, or new additions to the family. Moments large and small can have a significant impact on your financial standing and goals. Revisit the goals you made at the beginning of the year and make sure they are still aligned with your current standing. If not, take some time to look at your entire financial picture and future needs and create new goals that better reflect them.

View this Master List of Goals checklist if you need help with setting goals.

With a bit of time to prepare, you can enter the second half of the year feeling financially confident and on track to meet your goals. As vacations wind down and school starts back up, find some time to yourself to readjust, reevaluate, and rethink as needed to stay on track for the rest of the year.

I hope we get the opportunity to work together. If you'd like to see if any of these services are a good fit for you, feel free to schedule a free consultation or send me an e-mail.

Previous Updates

Tax Preparation and Financial Coaching

Find That Lost 401(k)!

2023 Important Numbers

Saving for College and 529 Plans

Mother's Day: Best Financial Tips for Mothers

How Much Do You Need To Make Work Optional?

Keep These Tips In Mind When Reviewing Your Tax Return.

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/243439/holiday-retail-sales-in-the-united-states/
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/246963/christmas-spending-in-the-us-during-november/
  3. https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-401k-and-profit-sharing-plan-contribution-limits

By Lamar Watson, CFP®

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