Fall in Line Financially This Season  

* In this four-part series, the Michigan Chronicle looks into how to revitalize, rethink and refresh your life as Fall begins officially on September 22. This is part two focusing on financial wellness.   

Her mother used to tell her that there’s no need to waste money by splurging on food.  

“My momma used to say, ‘We have food at home,’ Sherise Steele, wealth advisor, LPL Financial, who stuck by those words and instills financially sound advice now in her own daughter.  

“I tease my daughter that it is illegal to turn on the heat in September in Michigan,” Steele told the Michigan Chronicle, adding that the Fall season is a great time to re-evaluate one’s finances, especially, as seasonally-related issues crop up. “Several Michigan counties experienced flooding this year. Homeowners may not realize the extent of those damages until they need their furnaces in a few weeks. The fall is a great time to complete delayed car repairs and maintenance. Replacing car tires isn’t cheap but it keeps all of us safer.”  

Steele said that the Spring usually inspires financial fitness during Spring cleaning, while the Fall can bring about a renewed sense of financial clarity, too – if the season is capitalized on the right way.  

“Autumn begins the spending season: back-to-school and back-to-work shopping,” she said, adding that budgets should be adjusted for higher commuting expenses, after-school care costs and home winterization maintenance. “The holiday season is nipping at our heels. People who are paid bi-weekly have five to six paychecks before Christmas.”  

A LinkedIn article, Six Tips for Financial Fitness This Fall, backs up the importance of staying financially fit with several tips, which include:  

  1. Splurge a bit and schedule some celebratory days to spend a certain amount of money on things you cherish. 
  2. Take a fresh look at that budget and prioritize what should be saved and spent for a more realistic financial future. Also look for minor, unexplained charges, fees and more – remove what’s not needed. 
  3. Maintain that credit for a better credit score that is determined by you. From knowing credit limits to canceling credit cards – find financial help when needed and don’t be afraid to ask for it. 
  4. Spend time; look at spending more than money. Spend time with loved ones, which can be free and fulfilling! 
  5. Give back.It might sound counterintuitive, but working on giving back to others, especially those less fortunate within one’s budget, could help the economy go round. Think about giving back to charities, small shops, restaurants and other places that could use those wisely-spent funds.  

Steele said that it is never too late to get the finances back together, especially now.  

“If you feel like you’re off track, begin tracking what you’re spending. I won’t say the ‘budget’ word because it’s like the word diet. Let’s define what on track means — spending less than you earn,” Steele said, adding that sometimes the solution is to make some spending cuts, and other times you’ll have to find a job that pays a higher wage (or second job).   

Steele – who has done both to get on track – said that when she earned more, she didn’t spend more.   

“People would question why I drove my old car or was taking the bus. I didn’t buy a newer car until I was stable and had savings,” she said, adding that times have changed and people don’t always eat the food they have at home, and especially with the pandemic they’ve been doing more spending. “People are ordering in their meals, entertainment and household goods. That can lend itself to overspending. The meal delivery fees alone can add up to the cost of several meals. Every time you fix yourself a meal, add $5 to your own tip jar. Cancel one of your least important music and/or television streaming services and add $15 to your tip jar. These ‘budget leaks’ can sink your monthly budget.”  

Steele said that one of the important takeaways is to “pay yourself first.”  

“Most of us do not want to work forever. I help calculate how much saving that you need to stop working,” she said, adding that it is important for people to pay themselves by saving for retirement, before their rent or mortgage, and so forth. “You are number one. Finally, it takes about 30 years of savings to retire. Working for 30 years isn’t the same as saving while working for 30 years. I’ve been a financial advisor for over two decades. I’ve seen good retirements and some regrets.”  

She added that tracking expenses are important, too.   

“I like to write things down but there is an abundance of personal budget apps. You are probably better off than you feel that you are,” she said. “That will enable us to help ourselves and those who need assistance.”  

Contact Staff Writer Sherri Kolade with story ideas at skolade@michronicle.com 

 

 

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