I’ve become increasingly aware that although I send you strategies, tips and whatnot every week — it can be difficult to actually act on them, in the evenings for example, when the demands of family and the need for down-time pull at you.
That’s especially true as we ramp up on the cusp of fall. And even for the non-parents, or those with children out of the house, there is something about this season that brings a building sense of “busy-ness” to our lives, as everyone seems to be coordinating the start of their initiatives right around the start of school.
So, I have a bit of a novel proposal for you in this week’s Strategy Note. I believe it could help you in multiple ways–with your bottom line, your taxes … and even your mental health.
Before I get there, though — a few tax reminders:
1) Estimated taxes for the third quarter are due on Tuesday, September 15th. If this applies to you, you know who you are. We’d love to help you, though, if you need a quick word of advice. Shoot me an email (click the email button at the top of this page).
2) Corporate filings are also due on the same day (9/15). Again, you know who you are if this is for you … but let these simple reminders not be wasted!
Now … to my proposal for you — let me know what you think.
“Seize the day, put no trust in tomorrow.” – Horace
It’s true: inactivity is costly.
You see, if you’re like most people, I bet that when you get your house insurance renewal notice, you quickly glance at the price — and renew it. You renew it simply because you don’t have the time to search around for better prices.
In my experience, working with family finances for years, I’ve learned that most people have a good sense of what needs to be done to improve their finances but they simply cannot find the time.
So here’s my proposed solution for you: Take a day off work.
(You may have just missed Labor Day … but that’s alright, because you probably have other days available that you can take. And it really can be very much worth it!)
In fact, many financial tasks simply cannot be completed in the evening or on the weekend. By taking a day off work, you can contact people who may only be available at regular business hours.
On top of the true bottom-line impact a day like this could create, there is, of course, the “mental health” aspect of it all. HR professionals often recommend taking a mental health day, from time to time. Well — call this your “Fiscal Health” Day.
Possible tasks to consider accomplishing on your day off:
1. Dump your savings account with a puny interest rate and open a high yield savings account.
2. Get quotes for cheaper insurance: health, life, auto, house, and any other insurance. And you can even do a little calculating to determine how much you could save by changing your deductible. Even better — a good broker can do all of this shopping for you.
3. Complete the most important (but not obviously-pressing) financial tasks like making a will. (This one is best done with a professional, by the way.)
4. If you’re carrying credit card debt, call the companies and ask them to reduce your credit card interest rates. Believe it or not — they’ll often say yes. Take time to develop and formulate a good plan to get out of credit card debt. Find or prepare a debt reduction plan.
5. Get more organized with your finances by shopping around for and using a good personal finance software program. Mint, YNAB and Quicken are all good options. There are many more.
6. Review your budget, get caught up on your budget, or learn how to budget.
7. Shop around for the best online financial broker. Be sure you’re getting the best price for your stock trades.
8. Make energy efficient changes to your home and lifestyle.
9. Find a quality second-hand store to shop at, as an alternative to the local department store.
10. Set up automatic payments for your bills, to be sure you avoid late payments.
11. Sell your junk on eBay. Look for junk lying around the house and list it (or depending on the item, you might consider eBay’s “Valet” service, which lists and sells items for you). Or use a service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK, and have them come to your house, and you just point at the stuff you want to get rid of.
Undoubtedly, there are more things which can go on this list, if you’re industrious about it. But simply put, I’m hoping to give you “permission” to see your financial health in a similar light as you see your mental health.
Again, I welcome your thoughts.
Warmly (and until next week),
Aurelia E Weems, CPA