This Wednesday (September 26th) marks the annual Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Over the past few years, the wellness industry has exploded -- leading to an increased awareness on the importance of maintaining a healthy mind and body.
Just as women carve out time to prepare fresh whole foods and strengthen their bodies and practice mindfulness, it is just as important to take a pulse and measure your financial health. Same as conditioning a muscle, creating a strong financial plan requires regular commitment and maintenance. Taking a critical look at your personal finances is an essential step for women looking to embrace their money and, in turn, grow their power.
Below are three key tips that can lead you through your next financial health checkup.
Weigh your credit score
Your credit score is a rating that indicates how healthy your relationship is with credit. This can account for a variety of financial services, including factors beyond your credit card like student loans and a mortgage.
A weak score can cost you real dollars -- leading to higher interest rates and premiums. According to NerdWallet, “you can leverage great scores into great deals — on loans, credit cards, insurance premiums, apartments and cell phone plans. Bad scores can hammer you into missing out or paying more.”
Just like practicing good health habits, your credit score can benefit from healthy financial training. Paying your bills on time and spending within your credit limit can bolster the strength of your score. If you haven’t checked your score in a while, now is the time to weigh in. Services like Credit Karma allow you to check your credit score for free and offer insights into how to improve your rating. Knowing your baseline is the start toward getting in shape and reaching a healthy goal.
Exercise your retirement savings
Like conditioning your cardiovascular system, saving for retirement is an important step in supporting your future self. There are several tax-advantaged accounts that you can benefit from, depending on your work and financial status.
When measuring your long-term health, most people benefit from the expertise of outside advisors like doctors and coaches. Why not take a similar approach to your savings? Before walking into an appointment with HR or a financial planner, educate yourself on the options available. Learn about the different types of accounts, and make a list of priorities and questions you have regarding your retirement and savings goals.
Strengthen your investment portfolio
Depending on your stage in life, your investment portfolio might be in full growth-mode or be in the early stages of conception. Regardless of its status, maintenance is key to ensuring healthy investments.
Take stock of your investment portfolio, and ask yourself the following questions. If you don’t know or are unsure of the answer, it might be time to do some additional research or verify with an advisor:
Are you taking full advantage of tax-advantaged accounts?
Is your strategy diversified enough? Too much?
Are there ways to reduce your fees in order to optimize your portfolio?
What’s your approach to evaluating the efficacy of your investments?
Timely, sustainable checkups are a key aspect of creating a fit and healthy lifestyle. With an increased attention dedicated to women’s health, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to our priorities. Checking in your financial status is a critical next step for women to eliminate the cultural stigma attached to money and fund their future goals.