In Spanish | Just as paying attention to your cholesterol and blood pressure can help your physical health, knowing half a dozen numbers about your money can help improve your financial well-being. A little time spent seeing where you land on the following financial criteria can reassure you that you are in good shape or give you the advice you need to improve your situation.
“Breaking your financial situation down into small chunks helps you look at your finances objectively,” says Cait Howerton, financial planner in Atlanta. “It shows the first steps you can take to help you reach your goals. “
N ° 1. Your monthly cash flow
Why you need it: This is the most important number to know, according to most of the experts we have consulted. At a glance, you can see if you are living within your means and if you are financially stable.
How to find it: First, calculate all the money going into your household, adding up your monthly income from your job and any other source like rent. Second, calculate your cash outflows by listing your monthly expenses: housing, health care, food, debt repayment, etc. (Examining recent bank statements, credit card bills, and other financial statements will make it easier.) Subtract expenses from income to get the final figure.
What should I do with this: If the number is negative – you are spending more than you earn – you will know exactly how many dollars you will need each month to stop the slide. “You have two levers: you can earn more or spend less,” observes Howerton.
Looking at cash flow also lets you know how much you can set aside for long-term goals, like saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, buying a car, or paying down debt. “I’ve rarely, if ever, seen someone review their inputs and outputs and not change certain behaviors,” says Barry Glassman, a financial planner based in Tysons Corner, Va.
N ° 2. Social Security Benefit
Why you need it: More than half of older Americans receive at least 50 percent of their income from Social Security. Estimating the number now will let you know what to expect later.
How to find it: Sign up for a MySocialSecurity Account. You will see how much you are on track to receive if you apply for benefits at different ages. On your Overview page, scroll down and click Go to Retirement Calculator to see how future income and alternative retirement dates will affect your monthly benefit.
What should I do with this: Knowing how much you would receive on different start dates can give you a better idea of your future monthly retirement income and help you decide when to apply for your benefit. You can get a reduced benefit from age 62, or larger benefits for each month you wait until age 70, when your monthly payments will be around 76% higher. If you are married and have the highest income, delaying your benefit payment may also provide your spouse with a larger survivor benefit after your death.
No. 3. Pension saving
Why you need it: If you want to top up your social security income and any pension owed to you, this is where that money will come from.
How to find it: Add up the value of any retirement and investment savings accounts you may have.
What should I do with this: Divide the amount by 25. If you were in your 60s and stopped working today, that’s about the amount you could safely withdraw from your savings in your first year of retirement. Add that number to what you would get each year from Social Security and other sources. Would that be enough to support the life you prefer? If not, you may want to start saving more, postpone your expected retirement date, or both. If you’re a homeowner, you might also be starting to wonder if you could tap into your retirement home equity by selling your home or taking out a reverse mortgage.
Review your net worth calculation every year: Before retirement, it should generally increase every year, given market declines, advises Mari Adam, a financial planner in Boca Raton, Fla.