5 Labor Day Financial Planning Tips

5 Labor Day Financial Planning Tips
  • Opening Intro -

    Let's face it: the Labor Day we knew as kids is gone.

    Back then, the holiday signaled the last gasp of the summer, a final chance to jump into the pool, have everyone over for a picnic and get ready for school.

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These days, school has already started, your family has been scattered across the country and no one wants to eat outside. You may still have people over and grill out, but your thoughts will soon be redirected to what lies ahead for the month and for the remainder of the year.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at 5 Labor Day financial planning tips to help you close out the year with a bang:

1. Take stock of stock

– When was the last time you reviewed your investment portfolio? Given that the stock market has gyrated wildly in the past month, you may want to review your second quarter earnings and prepare for your third quarter statements which will be released in October. If you discover that you’ve taken a significant hit, make an appointment with your financial advisor to discuss what changes, if any, you need to make going forward.

2. Examine your Christmas funds

– Do you have money set aside for Christmas? If not, this can be a good time to sock some money away to avoid charging it up in December and paying the price in January. If times are hard, talk to your family members and friends – the people you exchange gifts with – to come up with a sensible giving plan this year. That might include selecting names from a grab bag to buy one special gift for a family member. Try setting aside $5 to $10 per day over the next two to three months to build up your fund. [1]

3. Plan for college

– Children who are still in grade school will soon be young adults ready to leave for college. Get ready for a financial hit! You can reduce pain at the bursar’s office later, by revisiting your college savings plans for each of your children. You say that you don’t have a college fund set up yet? A Section 529 plan is a great way to set aside money for education – explore what plans are available in your state.

4. Replenish your emergency fund

– Emergencies happen, but too often we Americans rely on our credit cards to handle a financial crisis. Not a bad idea if you can pay off that debt right away, but a terrible idea if all that it does is put you deeper in debt. Writing for Kiplinger, Cameron Huddleston notes the importance of setting aside money preferably to cover three- to six-months of living expenses. [2] Living expenses include just about everything: mortgage payments, utilities, food, gas for your cars and more.

5. Don’t forget some fun money

– Not every dollar you get in must be set aside to cover current and future expenditures. Set aside some money to take in a football game, visit a pumpkin farm, entertain for Thanksgiving and give to the needy at Christmas. If you don’t already have an entertainment or vacation account, set one up and start funding it immediately.

Each of the tips can be tackled together or ordered in importance of priority. Retirement funding should trump college funding and existing debt should be tackled before aggressively saving money for other pursuits.

References

[1] WBTV; Stretching Your Dollar… Christmas Savings Plan; Maureen O’Boyle; September 27, 2010

[2] Kiplinger; Why You Need an Emergency Fund; Cameron Huddleston; May 28, 2008

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".