It’s June, which means we’re officially halfway through the year – high time to see how our bank accounts are doing. Sit down with yourself, your accountant, or perhaps, a budgeting app in order to perform a full-scale health inspection on your finances, the Gazette Gal way.

Check Your Credit Score

Websites like Equifax and TransUnion are required to give you a free credit report each year, according to federal law, while select credit card companies offer access to your score as a membership perk. Either way, make sure to check for errors, fraud, and of course, spending habits -- especially if you're thinking of applying for a new lease or significant loan. If your score falls below 740, start thinking about concrete steps to strengthen it, like increasing your on-time monthly payments and paying off any existing balances as soon as you can. A budget re-evalulation might be needed, but all in the name of the greater good. In the meantime, be sure not to open any new accounts or close any old ones, as your credit history impacts your score as well. 

Review Your Financial Goals – And See If You’re On Track For Achieving Them

Is your savings account as healthy as you want it to be? Are you meeting your monthly minimum bills and expenses? Are your contributions to sinking funds for vacations, home repairs, or medical expenses enough to keep track of your priorities? Additionally, make sure to double-check any goals you have for fulfilling down payments, property purchases,  college funds, or business expense accounts. Especially important are building funds for emergency situations and for retirement. If they’re not as up to par as you expect, check if you can increase your regular contributions, or maybe downsize your expectations to fit your finances and lifestyle. Talk to your financial advisor (if applicable) to see if you can use accounts like 401ks and 529s to help increase these funds alongside the marktet fluctuations.

Refine and Readjust Your Budget 

A list of your complete expenses can be a difficult thing to face – I know I hate keeping track of all my iced matcha lattes – but it’s important to see if you’re successfully keeping your planned budget for this year. If not, it might be necessary to tighten it for the second half of the year in order to meet your spending and savings goals -- it's not too late! If your monthly income has increased or decreased due to your employment status, adjust your budget to reflect accordingly and make sure you take as many steps minimize your stress about covering any financial responsibilities as possible. Make sure you have enough in your checking account each month for those unexpected, casual expenses that pop up day-to-day - and increase how much you save if you don’t. 

Check Up on Your Debt

Whether it’s student loans, credit card debt, or a mortgage loan, make sure to check that you haven’t missed or run behind on any payments. Once your lose track of debt, it can feel desperately hard to get back on top of it. Focus your firepower one debt account at a time to maximize efficiency -- typically either the highest or lowest interest account, depending on your preferences - and make sure to shift your budget and expenses so you can do so. If you want to consolidate your debt, explore options like mortgage refinancing, home equity credit, and personal loans. Note the interest rates for each debt, and see if you can minimize them by transferring a credit card balance – usually for a fee – onto a lower interest card, so you can put more of your payments directly towards the debt itself.

Evaluate Your Investments

Investments can make all the long-term difference in terms of your net worth and financial circumstances -- no matter how much you have, don't underestimate them. If you have one, check with your financial advisor to see how your portfolio health is doing this year. Pull out of any investments that are too big to risk underperformance, and consider doing research to expand into more diverse options, to keep up with market changes and corrections corrections. See if the corporations and index funds you invest in still match your personal and political values — if not? Find new ones that need your support and can bolster our the strength of your investments

Review Your Insurance

Make sure your health insurance and life insurance rates appear adequate according to your salary and life circumstances or changes. If you’re struggling with monthly payments or want a greater amount of coverage, research and shop around for better plans that suit your circumstances and your needs. Then, review - if applicable - your car, home, renter’s, and disability insurance policies for the same thing, letting the companies know if you've paid anything off in the past year, as this will affect your credit. 

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

Double-check that you're placing yourself in the most accurate tax bracket possible -- it's best to underestimate then overestimate, and who doesn't love a refund check at the end of each fiscal year? Review how much you're contributing to untaxed accounts, like IRA's and 401k's, and see if you have any workable strategies to minimize your tax liability -- like charitable or nonprofit donations that let you deduct from your taxes and do good at the same time. 

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