Any temperature below 75 degrees still counts as winter though by Austin standards so I am whipping up all the hearty stews and soups I can. If you haven’t discovered Half Baked Harvest, I highly recommend checking her site out. My dinner (and dessert!) game has completely changed!
A new month always feels like a mini refresh and is a great time to set a few short-term goals. One of the most productive habits I got into last year was taking some time in the first week of the new month to review our previous month’s income and expenses. I’ve found this much more effective than setting static or lofty budgets since I can see our actual spending habits and set more realistic expectations for the coming month.
This month is also about paying myself first. That means re-calibrating my cash, investment, and retirement allocations before any new spending temptations set in. By February, your holiday expenditures are hopefully paid off and maybe you even got a year-end raise or bonus. It’s a great time to re-evaluate your income and make adjustments accordingly.
Each month I’ll provide a few items that should be on your financial checklist. Finances can be stressful, overwhelming, and let's face it - some times straight up boring. But taking a few quick steps each month will set you up for a more successful path to financial independence.
February's Financial Checklist
1. Monthly Balance Sheet
Calculate January’s after-tax income, expenses, and savings.
2. Tax Planning
Yup, it’s that time again already! Usually, my husband can’t wait to whip out TurboTax in January but we’re off to a later start this year. You may not have all your tax forms in just yet but it is a great time to decide how (or who) will get your taxes done, brush up on current tax laws, and start estimating what you might owe or get back.
3. Retirement Contributions
The beginning of the year is a great time to revisit your retirement contributions. If you have the means to do so, max out your 401(K) or IRA contributions as early as you can so that your investments can start building returns.
4. Cash Re-allocation
Year-end bonuses, salary raises, or some hefty credit card payments from the holidays can put your cash accounts out of whack. Make sure you buffer your bank accounts with enough cash to cover monthly expenses and emergencies and siphon any excess funds towards other interest-earning or investment accounts.
Love Yourself First
Show yourself a little love this month and pay yourself first! A little time and a few minor tweaks will put you leaps ahead for the remainder of 2020. Happy February!