YOUR MID-YEAR FINANCIAL CHECKLIST
Surpassing the halfway point in the year means that summer has started. With the favorable weather and array of fun activities available, evaluating your financial situation might be low on your to-do list. But it shouldn't be.
This is the ideal time of year to revisit your finances to ensure you stay on track with your savings and budgeting goals.
REVIEW YOUR BUDGET
A budget can only support your financial goals if you take the time to review and evaluate whether you’re staying on track.
Start by checking your credit card and bank statements. Look at how much you spent on your rent or mortgage, bills, groceries, utilities and entertainment during the year's first six months. Was the total amount spent within your means? If so, that’s great! If you saved more money than you predicted, consider putting some of it toward outstanding debt, such as credit card balances. If you see that your spending was too high, take a closer look and ensure you identify unnecessary purchases that led you to exceed your budget.
ESTABLISH OR REVISE YOUR SAVINGS GOALS
If you established a savings goal at the start of the year, now is the time to see how you're doing and determine if any adjustments need to be made. And if you didn't, it is not too late to think of a realistic savings goal you can achieve in the year's second half. In either case, a savings goal helps you prioritize your spending habits and ensures you're putting money aside for the things that matter most.
Just remember that saving money requires effort and commitment. If you specify a certain amount of money you want to save in your bank account each week or month, stick to your plan. Use our saving tool to calculate your weekly or monthly contributions.
CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE
Do you know what your credit score is? If not, you can get a complete personal credit report, which includes your credit score, from one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies, Equifax®, Experian™ or TransUnion®.
Your credit report contains information about your borrowing history, including how much debt you have, how often you make payments on time, and how much credit you have available. This information helps determine your credit score. A high score can help you secure lower interest rates on loans and lines of credit. It can also increase your chances of being approved for rental applications or job offers that require a background check.
Making timely credit card payments is essential to maintaining a good credit score. Not only does paying on time help keep your credit utilization low, but it also improves your overall financial health. Remember that while making monthly credit card payments is a good practice, you must pay interest on the balance that carries over to the next billing cycle.
CONSIDER A HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT (HELOC)
If you're a homeowner and, after reviewing your mid-year finances, determine that you need to consolidate debt or need to make a large purchase, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be an attractive option. This flexible financial tool allows you to tap into the equity in your home and use it for various purposes.
In addition to debt consolidation, HELOCs can be used for home renovation projects, college tuition, medical bills, unexpected expenses or just about anything else. Unlike a home equity loan, which is a one-time lump sum, a HELOC lets you borrow what you need, when you need it. This can result in lower, more manageable payments and less debt.
GET A FREE CHECKING ACCOUNT
The monthly service fees for a checking account can put a dent in your bank account. That is unless you choose a bank that offers a free checking option. Ameris Bank, for example, offers a checking account with no monthly service fees or minimum balance requirements*. Plus, you have access to all of the digital tools you need, like online and mobile banking, e-statements and custom alerts.
BUDGET FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The first six months of the year flew by quickly. Before you know it, the warm weather we mentioned before will make way for cooler temperatures. And that means the busy holiday season will be upon us. If you save money wisely during the upcoming months, you will be well-prepared to do your holiday shopping without depleting your savings account or overextending your credit cards.
Set your holiday shopping budget early, long before brick-and-mortar retailers and e-tailers announce their sales and bargains. Doing so can help you end the year in good financial shape. Finally, if you are planning a holiday vacation, get started now. You might get favorable prices that fit your budget by booking a flight and hotel room well in advance.
Published July 2023
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
*Other fees, such as non-sufficient funds, overdraft, etc., may apply. See the Miscellaneous Services Pricing Guide for details.