How financial check-ins can help you crush your money goals

The mind-money connection

Figure out where you are financially—and chart a path to help you get where you want to be.

Doing a financial check-in or personal finance review can be a little like a routine visit to your doctor. It’s a chance to monitor your wellness, diagnose any issues, and set goals for your future.

While a financial advisor can be helpful with financial goals check-ins, they’re actually something you can do on your own. We’ve got some tips that can help you get started or build upon what you’re already doing.

The highlights:

  • A financial check-in can help you make sure you’re on track with your goals—like paying down debt, saving for the unexpected, and investing for your future.
  • Creating a money goals checklist may help you identify specific steps that can boost your financial wellness.
  • Calculating your net worth is one simple way to measure progress toward your financial goals—and to build confidence along the way.

Ask yourself these 5 questions during a financial check-in.

1. Do you have enough saved for emergencies? Having a healthy emergency savings fund is a cornerstone of financial wellness. It can help you feel confident and prepared for the unexpected. If you’re just getting started with your emergency savings, consider setting an initial goal of $1,000 and make it a priority in your budget. From there, keep steadily growing your emergency fund so it can cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses while you also work on your other money goals. If you don’t already have a secure place to store your emergency fund, consider a Truist One SavingsDisclosure 1 account, which allows you to earn interest on your balance.

2. Are you living within your means? Spending less money than you make is another key principle of financial wellness. A budget can help you accomplish this. If you don’t already have one, creating a budget can be part of your financial check-in. And if you do have one, your financial check-in can be the time you review your budget and adjust as needed. Remind yourself that living within your means can help you spend more on things that bring you joy—and less on things that don’t.

3. Do you have a plan to handle debt? Your financial goals check-in is also a great time to ensure you have a plan for paying off any outstanding debts. One approach is to start with any debts under $1,000—which can help you rack up wins and build momentum—and then move on to debts with the highest interest rates before paying those with lower interest rates.

4. Are you properly insured? Health, home, and auto are the most common types of insurance you may need. Whether you need additional insurance depends on your particular situation. Consider meeting with a qualified insurance agent to review your coverage and make sure you’re not underinsured—or over-insured and paying for more than you need.

5. Are you investing for your future? If you have dreams of retiring one day, investing is a crucial part of getting you there. Does your employer offer a 401(k), or do you have an individual retirement account (IRA)? Using our retirement savings calculator can help you figure out how much to save for the long term.

Create a financial checklist.

After asking yourself those five questions, you’re ready to create a financial checklist. Your list can include broad and long term goals, like “live within my means,” or more specific ones, like “start a new savings account” or “create a will.”

For example, let’s say you have a goal to retire early. A more general checklist item may be, “increase my 401(k) contributions.” Or, you might choose to add more specific tasks to your checklist, like:

  • Schedule a meeting with a financial advisor.
  • Increase 401(k) contributions to a specific amount.
  • Review investments quarterly.

Let’s look at another example: buying a home. Before you call a real estate agent and start visiting open houses, you can use your financial check-in to create a checklist that could help with a goal like this:

  • Raise my credit score to qualify for a better interest rate on a mortgage loan.
  • Save enough for a 10% (or more) down payment on a home in a neighborhood I like.
  • Pay off my consumer debt so I can put more money toward mortgage payments.

Every time you do a financial check-in, refer to your checklist. Are you making progress toward your money goals? Celebrate any wins or progress you’ve made—and use your momentum to help you come up with new next steps.

Calculate your net worth.

Your net worth is all your assets minus all your liabilities—or everything you own minus everything you owe. Knowing this one number can help you make progress on all of your financial goals simultaneously.

“It’s the check-in of all check-ins,” says Truist head of financial wellness, Brian Ford. “Calculating this one figure can do so much for you. A lot of people want to set goals around saving more or paying off debt or investing. If you commit to growing your net worth, you can do all of that.”

To calculate your net worth, first add up the value of all your assets. That includes all the money in your checking and savings accounts and any investment accounts, plus the value of your car, your house, and any other assets you own. Next, subtract your liabilities or debts, such as credit card debt, your mortgage balance, car loans, or other debts. The sum of your assets minus your liabilities is your net worth.

Assets - Liabilities = Net Worth

Assets

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Investments
  • Retirement savings
  • Home equity
  • Cars

Liabilities

  • Credit card debt
  • Auto loans
  • Mortgage
  • Student loans
  • Taxes owed
  • Other debt

It isn't necessarily unusual to have a negative net worth if you're early in your financial journey or carrying significant debt. Lots of people start there—so it's nothing to be ashamed of. Consistent financial check-ins can help you grow your net worth and financial confidence.

On the Money and Mindset With Bright and Brian podcast, Ford outlines how calculating your net worth can be an important part of a financial check-in. It’s both an honest look at your financial situation and a figure that can help you set goals for the future, he says.

“If your net worth is going up steadily, you know that you’re doing a pretty good job financially,” he says. “And there are two ways you can grow your net worth. You can either save and invest more or you can pay off debt—or do both.”

How often you should do a financial goals check-in? Ford says it’s a good idea to do one every three to six months. “You probably shouldn’t do it more than quarterly, no matter how advanced you are,” he says. “Some people can look at the market too much and overanalyze their finances. You can develop a good system that should be largely automated and able to keep you on the right track without you having to do constant check-ins.”

Build self-efficacy through financial check-ins.

One positive, lesser-known side effect of a financial check-in is that it can help you build self-efficacy, which is a little different from self-esteem. “Self-esteem says ‘I’m good,’” says Bright Dickson, senior purpose advisor at Truist and co-host of the Money and Mindset with Bright and Brian podcast. “Self-efficacy says, ‘I’m capable.’ It’s what you think about your ability to adapt and overcome challenges in the future.”

When you reach your short-term goals, you’re setting yourself up to achieve even bigger things in the future. “You’re accomplishing a task, you’re solving a problem, and you’re growing your ability,” Dickson says. “That’s self-efficacy. It builds confidence. It builds optimism, and it’s connected to positive emotion.”

In other words, a financial check-in can feel good—because it may help you learn, grow, and move forward. With every financial check-in, you can help yourself become more confident in your financial future.

Next step suggestions:

  • Get that check-in going! Use the five questions at the beginning of this article to help kick things off.
  • Organize your files, automate your bill payments, close old accounts, and look for other ways to declutter your finances as part of your check-in.
  • Craft a personal purpose statement, which can help you figure out what you value most in life and how your finances can support those values.

Grow your savings. Earn interest.

Saving? More like building. Building security. Building towards personal goals. Building interest. And building more perks—the cash in your Truist One Savings account may help you get more benefits from your Truist One Checking account.

Check out Truist One SavingsDisclosure

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, or mental health advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, or mental health professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.