After a busy summer, you’re likely ready for things to slow down a bit. But are you ready to deal with your financial situation? Do you have an action plan? Here are five money moves you should consider making this fall:
Prepare for rising interest rates
Given that the economy is on the mend, you can expect interest rates to eventually rise this fall. This means that the cost of borrowing money at record lows will be a thing of the past. That said, if you’re interested in buying a big ticket item like a house, for example, consider doing it sooner rather than later (did you know that a 1% rise in mortgage rates reduces your purchasing power by a whopping 11%?). And if you’re carrying credit card debt, now is the time to start chipping away at this debt before it becomes an even bigger burden.
You’ve seen the headlines – this fall, prices are rising on everything from grocery staples (oranges to chocolate, cheese, bacon to butter and more) to denim to airfares. For big-ticket purchases in particular, it pays to put the extra time in to comparison shop – whether it’s for groceries or clothes. In fact, statistics show that most families could save $1,000 or more a year if they took the time to do this! You can also ask about price match guarantees, and search for coupons and special discounts on sites like retailmenot.com. Looking to upgrade your fall wardrobe? Gilt, HauteLook and Beyond the Rack are easy to sign up for and regularly offer flash sales on mid-to-high-end designers that you may otherwise be unable to afford.
Start saving for the holidays
The holiday season is just around the corner. Think: parties, gifts, vacations! It all adds up and without proper planning, we inevitably overspend. To avoid the post-holiday hangover, create your holiday budget now. This is where Mint.com comes in handy; in fact, it’s a great resource for planning any savings goal, any time! Just enter the amount you’d like to save, set a date, and then link this goal to your bank account.
Rebalance your portfolio
The United States is enjoying one of the best stock market surges in its history. That’s great, but the problem is that investment success often brings with it a growing exposure to risk. Is this risk too much for you to tolerate? Then now is the time to review your portfolio and consider making adjustments if you think your exposure to certain assets has grown uncomfortably high.
Review your tax situation
It’s never too soon to start planning for the upcoming tax season. After all, waiting until the last minute to try and get your paperwork together often ends up costing you — particularly if you miss out on money-saving credits or deductions. Now is also a good time to review your withholding to make sure you’re having the proper amount withheld.
–Vera Gibbons, Mint Contributor and Personal Finance expert