How To Make A Financial Wellness Checklist

Sep 6, 2022

Understanding where you are financially and planning for your future are important steps in achieving financial security in these uncertain economic times. Here is a guide to starting your financial wellness checklist.

Financial wellness assessment

The most important step is assessing your financial status. With rising costs, ask yourselves these important questions:

  • Am I sticking to my budget?
  • Am I making sure I'm keeping a list of all expenses and comparing that to what I'm making?
  • Am I tracking towards my financial goals?
  • Am I leveraging available tools, such as webinars, to ensure I'm maintaining financial literacy?

Create an emergency fund

As we've seen in the last two years, life doesn't always go according to plan. It's essential to set aside money for emergencies. While how much you have in an emergency fund varies based on your lifestyle, the general rule is to keep 3 to 6 months' worth of expenses in the fund. You won't get to that point overnight, but it's important to set aside what you can until the amount builds to a place you can be comfortable with.

Tackle your debt

Debt can come in many shapes and sizes, and paying it off can be stressful – especially when there's so much uncertainty surrounding the economy. If you have high-interest debt of any kind, you should prioritize this first, as interest will only continue to grow. To make this feel more manageable, create a debt management plan that outlines what you can afford to pay and when. If you have a number of different loans you are paying off, consider using PFCU's debt consolidation calculator. This debt consolidation calculator is designed to help determine whether debt consolidation is right for you.

Improve your credit score

The closest thing you have to a letter grade for where you stand financially is a credit score. The higher your score, the better you look to potential lenders. Building a healthy credit history and improving your score takes time, but the sooner you address the issues that may be lowering it, the faster your score may go up. A few things you can do to improve your credit score include:

  • Paying your bills on time and in full every month. If you pay your balance off in full every month, you will never pay interest! If you're unable to pay in full each month, you should aim to pay more than you spend. If you only make the minimum payment due each month, you will end up paying more towards interest than towards your actual balance.
  • Avoid applying for too many lines of credit. Each line you apply for requires lenders to create a hard inquiry on your report — if there are too many inquiries, it can damage your score.
  • Keep your utilization rate low. Set a goal for yourself, such as keeping your utilization rate below 30% on your credit card, and be sure to monitor your credit report. You can do so for free on annualcreditreport.com and dispute any inaccuracies.

Calculate & build towards retirement

No matter where you are in your career, it's never too early to begin preparing for retirement. Not sure how much monthly income your retirement savings will provide you after you stop working? This calculator can help you find out.

Preparing a will

Your estate plan matters. Having a sound estate plan includes an up-to-date will, directives if you were to become disabled or incapacitated, care for minor children, and other items. As tax laws change and various legislation is introduced, there is often a need to review estate plans and ensure your affairs are aligned with the most recent laws. While it's not always top of mind, estate planning is paramount to caring for your loved ones.

Preparing financially for your future can seem scary. However, following the simple steps on this financial wellness checklist can help provide you and your family with peace of mind. 

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
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