When it comes to handling your personal finances responsibly, there are a few things to keep top of mind. Whether you’re responsible for your household finances, your own personal wealth management, or even if you’ve entrusted a personal financial planner to handle most of your money matters, there are some aspects of your financial life you can’t afford not to know. Taking time to invest in financial planning and responsibility will always pay off.
- Understand Your Monthly Net Income Vs. Expenses
You probably know your salary — but do you know your monthly net income? That’s the amount of cash you bring home after taxes, health insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and any other employer-sponsored benefits plan you may participate in have been deducted from your paycheck.
Knowing and understanding your monthly net income will help ensure you’re saving adequately for the unexpected. The importance of having such an emergency stash became overwhelmingly apparent while managing finances in a pandemic. Experts typically recommend you have at least three to six months’ worth of your take-home pay available and accessible to cover expenses in the event of a job loss or a medical emergency.
The obvious rule of thumb is to keep your monthly expenses below your monthly net income. Being aware of what you spend each month relative to your income and how much money you consistently save for shorter- and longer-term goals is important to your financial security.
Establishing a monthly budget can be especially helpful. Plus, if your financial circumstances change, it empowers you to easily adjust your saving and spending strategies.
- Be Aware of Your Assets and Debts
Creating a list of your assets is an important function of your personal wealth management. Your asset inventory should include names of the financial institutions where all checking, savings, brokerage, investment, and retirement accounts are held, along with the account numbers, login credentials for online access, and current beneficiary designations.
Likewise, if you rely on a personal financial planner and/or legal professionals to manage some or all your tax, financial, and/or estate-related matters, make sure spouses, adult children, and/or a trusted family member knows their names and contact information.
Keep account data and passwords in a secure location (which may include a lock box or an online secure password manager) that your family or loved ones can access if needed.
Similarly, you should also keep track of your debts including credits cards, mortgages, and loans.
- Stay on Top of Your Insurance Policies and Their Status
Insurance coverage is required for certain assets like a home or a car, while coverage for short- and long-term disability, life insurance, and personal umbrella policies are optional. Yet, all insurance policies require that you pay premiums to keep them active and current.
Know what coverage you have and with whom, so you can take advantage of policies that could protect your wealth in case of the unexpected. And, for life insurance policies, it’s important to keep your beneficiary designations up to date.
Keeping these three aspects of your financial life top of mind will keep your finances in order. Whether you are solely responsible for your own financial well-being, your financial life is entwined with that of a partner or spouse, or you’ve entrusted a financial advisor, it pays to be well-informed through all the stages of your life.