You could call it the nap-time of personal-finance planning. Many workers find this month is a quiet time at the office. For families, it’s a time to amble back from vacation and start gearing up for the school year. But its very calm makes August a stellar time to work on your finances.
“August is a good time to start your year-end planning, and plan for next year, because once the holidays hit, you don’t want to think about that,” says Beth Lynch, a certified financial planner with Schneider Downs Wealth Management Advisors in Pittsburgh.
Ready for a personal-finance reboot?
Here are six steps:
1 Get ready for upcoming college costs
Is your child in high school?
Plan now for college scholarships.
Robert Weinerman, senior director, college finance, at consulting firm College Coach in Watertown, Mass., says the summer before 10th grade is the time to start.
“Look for five or six scholarships you’d like to win as a senior, and spend the next three years making yourself the perfect candidate,” he says. One search tool he likes is Scholarships.com.
Another task for high-school parents: Use the College Board’s calculator to get a sense of how much your expected family contribution will be for need-based financial aid.”If they discover that the costs are higher than they thought, they need to be sure their kid applies to school where scholarships are more likely,” Mr. Weinerman says.
Go to BigFuture.CollegeBoard.org. On the “pay for college” drop-down menu, click “tools and calculators” and go to “EFC calculator.”Also, talk with your student. “The adults in the household should decide what they can and can’t afford and then have a frank discussion with the future student so everybody is looking for a school that comes in at that level,” Mr. Weinerman says.
And, if your college savings are invested in equities and that college bill comes due in the next year or two, start shifting to more conservative investments.