I’m really looking forward to this holiday weekend and, believe it or not, the second half of the year. Where did the time go? This is a great time to review the status of your “financial house” and other life planning decisions that may have been pushed off. It’s been quite a blur since mid-March, as most of us transitioned to living and working from home. Here’s a quick check list to ensure you, and your financial decisions, are in sync. I’ve also included some personal wellness tips:
- Did you file your Federal taxes? You have until July 15th. Avoid scrambling at the last-minute by completing this now if you haven’t already done so.
- Have you updated your W4 and provided it to your employer? This tracks how much Federal income tax is withheld from your gross pay. Lowering your allowances will not move the needle. Completing your W4 will cause greater tax withholding now so you don’t end up owing more taxes when you file next year. Form W4, available here, allows you to properly adjust your withholding.
- Fairfax County real estate taxes, the first half at least, are due at the end of July. Many have this automatically withheld as part of their mortgage payment. For the growing number of folks who have paid off their mortgage, you are responsible for sending the first payment in very soon. The second payment is due every December. DC residents pay semi-annually as well, but in March and September.
- What are you doing for summer fun? Now is the time to consider a “Pandemic-friendly vacation” or however that’s being defined now. Larger, more popular destinations are likely out, but you should consider the option of renting a lake house, beach house, cabin or RV. Go somewhere other than home (where you’ve been hanging out since March). A change of scenery is good on many levels, go have some fun, you’ve earned it!
- Would a refinance of your mortgage be a good thing given uber low rates? All indications point to interest rates continuing to stay low for the foreseeable future. Housing may represent one of your largest fixed monthly expenses. It may be worthwhile reviewing your current rate, terms, and years remaining. More on that here.
- Speaking of housing, do you have any capital improvements you’d like to make to your home? Now is a great time to review project costs of all sizes, both large and small. Having a financial plan helps you prepare for the long run. Creating a capital improvement plan allows you to define costs, set money aside in advance, create a buffer as projects run over, and begin thinking about a timeline and start date. The fall will be here before you know it.
- How are your cash reserve levels? Are you happy with what you have saved or does money seem to evaporate from your account? Consider setting up an automatic transfer from your operational account to a savings or reserve account each time you’re paid. Automation can be your friend. Already have this set? Super! When was the last time you increased the amount you transfer to reserves?
- How’s your personal wellness routine? Do you have a schedule that allows you to get outside for walks, bike rides, or maybe a swim as the pools slowly open up? It’s important to set this time aside, in advance, on your calendar. The Metro area is full of great trails to explore and parks to enjoy. We don’t need to make this something complex. A simple pair of walking shoes and google maps can allow you to discover and enjoy trails close to you. Studies continue to show that spending time outdoors, specifically in nature, reduces stress and worry while increasing our longevity. Life is crazy right now and there is no sense in planning (and saving) for tomorrow if you won’t be there to enjoy it. Consider reviewing your current wellness plan and treat it with the same importance as you would a client meeting or work project.
Have a safe and wonderful July 4th weekend!