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Financial Checkups: A Tune-Up for Your Money

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Drivers know they need an oil change approximately every three months. Did you know that your money needs just as much attention as your motor? Ordinary expenses and extraordinary events can take their toll. Financial checkups help you avoid a breakdown.


Financial checkups are about where you want to go in life. At the beginning of a new journey, a financial checkup will help you set your goals. Once you have your destination in mind, making a plan will plot the course to achieving your goals. When you’re on your way, a financial checkup will point you in the right direction to make sure you arrive at your destination on your pre-set schedule. If you take a wrong turn along the way, then a financial checkup can get you pointed in the right direction again.

No matter if you do a self check or work with your financial professional, your financial check should focus on where you want to go. No one knows your plans as well as you do. Some families dream about walking in the front door of their first home. Other people see themselves walking along a white sandy beach as they celebrate their retirement. Still others look forward to the day when their children will walk across the stage at their college graduation. Your financial plan should be as special as your dreams.

The steps involved in a good financial checkup depend on where you are in your life and where you want to go. Here are some suggestions to begin:

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  • Inventory – Make a list. Everything you own (assets) – everything you owe (liability) = your net worth.

–Is it what you thought it would be? Is it what you want it to be? Once you know your starting point, move on to the next step.

  • budget analysis will let you know where you’re headed. By looking at your cash flow, you will know where your money goes. If your money isn’t going towards your goals, you won’t make any progress.
  • Goal setting helps you look ahead to where you want to go. If you’re in a long-term relationship, don’t forget to talk with your significant other about his or her goals. Next, start thinking about how much money you need for your goals.

–If you want make a big purchase like a vehicle or a home, use our handy calculators which takes several factors into account to point you toward a monetary goal. (Tip: if you are clueless on what rates to plug in to the home-buying formula, contact  a real estate agent in your desired area to ask for current average rates as a starting point.)

–It’s a great idea to start saving for a home down payment even before starting the pre-approval process. If you already have a goal, reevaluate what you need to achieve it.


Whether your destination features tropical beaches or three bedrooms, you can make sure you’re headed in the right direction with a financial checkup. Just like oil change, a little bit of financial maintenance will keep you on the road to success. 

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Don’t Get Sacked Buying a Big Screen for the Big Game

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The big game is just around the corner and many people are thinking about buying a new big screen. You may think you’re getting a Hail Mary of a deal, but make sure you’re not getting blitzed. Here are some ways to score the TV you want and advance your financial goals down the field.

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  • Your budget is your playbook. Even if you can’t execute every play perfectly, the closer you can stick to your plan, the more points you’ll put up on the board.
  • Plan out your maximum price, the features you want and the size you want.

For example, when you start looking, you may be thinking about buying a 47-inch TV for $700, but then you find a great 47-inch TV marked down to $500. Then the helpful sales associate says that they have a 50-inch marked down from $1,000 to $750. They say that with the bigger TV you save 300 dollars instead of 250 and you’re still under your budget.

Watch out: they’re going for an interception!

If you have a budget and you spend the full amount, you did not save any money. You were never going to buy the $1,000 dollar 50-inch TV. When you came in the store, you were thinking you’d be happy with the 47-inch model. Remember the play you’re running, buy the size you originally wanted and you’ll have another $250 to put towards saving. 

  • In the NFL, players will watch hours of game tapes to learn about the other team. Do your homework by checking out customer reviews or other trusted sources.
  • That helpful sales associate may also offer you no payments or no interest for months. But even the worst referee would call a flag on this play. These deals often take the form of deferred interest, so if you don’t pay back the full amount in the given time frame, you could owe interest for the entire length of time. Every loan and credit card is different, so be sure to read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. You may gain 10 yards on the play, but paying a high interest rate can set you back worse than a 15 yard penalty.

Remember, buying a TV is just one play in one game. For saving money, the season never ends. NFL players train their entire life to get to the big game. We save money our entire life to get to retirement. Don’t let spending sideline you. 

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This year, resolve to think small

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Every year, we make resolutions. We dream of all the goals we want to achieve and the objectives we want to accomplish. And every year, life gets in the way. We resolve this will be the year we get in shape, but our resolve freezes in the January cold. We pledge that this will be the year we get organized, but our goal gets lost among the clutter. We swear that this will be the year we start saving for retirement, but our budget runs short as bills loom large.

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Soon, our resolutions fall aside as we try to keep up with the day to day. Our problems seem so big and our time so small. There is so much to do, so many problems to solve. What can we do? Where should we start? How can we even get started? Every year, our resolutions crumble and our problems remain.

This year, don’t try to solve the big problems.

This year, resolve to think small.

Yes, small. Small is beautiful. Small is doable. Small is possible.

If you want to save money, don’t think “I want to save for retirement.” Saving for retirement is a lifelong goal, not something you can do in a year.  Instead, start small. First, ask yourself if you have an emergency fund. Everyone should save at least 3-6 months’ worth of income for emergencies.  If you do not have any savings, 3-6 months of income can seem like a lot. Don’t try to save it all at once. Ask yourself what you can do.

Can you save 10 percent of January’s pay? Or maybe just $100 dollars?

Find an amount that you believe you can save. Every payday, take half of that goal amount and put it in a Savings account. Then, in February, ask yourself if you can increase how much you save. If you saved $100 in January, can you save $120 in February? That’s only $10 more per paycheck, $5 per week. It’s only one less fast food meal, one less trip to Starbucks. Think about the small expenses. Every time you cut back a little more, you can save that much more. Keep it up and soon you’ll have an emergency fund saved.

No matter what your goals are for 2014, know that every small step counts toward accomplishing your goal.

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