Time for a Financial Tune Up?

When employees experience financial stress, they often become distracted and less productive at work. As we continue to recover from the recession, your employees may benefit from this personal finance article.


The information below is provided by MHN, Health Net’s behavioral health subsidiary. Through its Employee Assistance Program, MHN offers many resources to help employees nip financial stress — from financial consultations to an online financial library. To learn more about MHN’s services, please visit MHN’s website at www.mhn.com or call (800) 327-7526 or email productinfo@mhn.com.


Is it time for a financial tune up? Of course, you should pay close attention to your finances all the time. But it’s helpful to schedule a time, every six months or so, to consider where things stand financially. You can take a look at whether you’re where you planned to be or want to be, and take action if you need to make changes for the rest of the year.


Look for big things first

Give special attention to things that will have significant effects on your finances. These may be events such as getting married or divorced, buying or selling a house, coming into an inheritance or having a baby. If something like this has happened in the past six months, how well are you handling it? If you’re expecting something like this in the next six months, how well prepared are you for it? Events such as these can change your financial picture dramatically. Handling them can be complicated. You may need professional help in order to make the right decisions.


Assess how you’re doing

The routine, everyday decisions you make about your finances are also very important. They can determine whether you’re heading up or down financially. Here are some basic things to look at in order to assess how you’re doing so far this year:


Budgeting: It’s crucial to maintain a budget so that, at a minimum, you know how much money is coming in and going out and can act accordingly. Have you faithfully kept a budget this year? If so, what does it tell you about where you’re headed?


Controlling debt: Remember how during last year’s holiday shopping you decided to put a few things on the credit card and quickly pay it off in the first couple of months of the New Year? Have you kept that promise to yourself? Whatever the source of your debt, it’s important to keep it down. If you think making the minimum payment on a credit card each month allows you to tread water, you’re wrong. Use the calculator at http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditcardcalculator/ to get an idea of how long it can take to pay the debt and how the interest paid can far exceed the amount borrowed.


Making adjustments: Making changes as circumstances call for them can keep financial problems from getting out of hand or put you in a stronger position financially. If you’re heading for a deficit, look back over your expenditures for the year and cut spending on the things you can do without. Headed for a surplus? Decide the best use for the extra money, from paying down debt to bolstering your savings.


You may feel you need help making decisions on the small things and in developing good financial habits. Talking about family finances with an expert will give you a clearer idea of where you stand money-wise and where you need to go.



This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral healthcare advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.




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Susan Peters