Friends has been a staple in our household for almost a decade. Those six kids can still make me laugh. Every time my daughter, Alex, needs a couple of hours of decompression, in goes a Friends DVD. Several years ago when Lisa Kudrow was on Ellen, they played the “What’s your next line?” game. Ellen played a clip from the show and Lisa had to tell her what the next line she said was in the show. Lisa got 2 out of 5 right. Alex got em all.
The show had a lot of iconic moments. One of my favorites was when Joey would say in his deep, sultry voice, “How you doin’?” It was the line that melted girls’ panties. So funny.
So pretend I’m Joey for a moment: How you doin’? No, I’m not trying to denude you with Joey magic, I’m just asking: “When was the last time you took stock of where you are and how you feel about it?”
Are you happy with your income? Do you feel like you make enough money, or do you know you’re not bringing in enough to support the lifestyle you want?
2. Shopping Habits
Are you spending less than you make? This is Gail’s Rule #1 and it’s the only way to be solvent. So, is your spending below your income? Do both you and your partner see eye-to-eye on this issue? Do you even know how much of your income you’re spending and on what?
Do you have any consumer debt? This is the bane of a healthy financial foundation. Consumer debt is money you spent on stuff… money you haven’t yet earned. Credit itself isn’t bad… but debt (using that credit and not paying it off) is. If you’re relying on overdraft protection, a line of credit or your credit cards to get you to the end of the month, you’re in trouble. And if you don’t have a plan to get that consumer debt gone in three years or less, you’re in denial.
Do you have a healthy emergency fund? You need six months’ worth of essential expenses (that’s ground beef not sirloin steak) in the bank in cash. A line of credit doesn’t count.
5. Safety Net
Have you got enough of the right kind of life, disability, and critical illness insurance you need to ensure that if the worst does happen you (and your family) are covered?
6. Plan For The Worst
Have you made a Will and executed Powers of Attorney for both financial and personal care? What, you think you’ll never die? Nothing bad can happen to you because you’re a good person? Grow up!
7. The Golden Years
Are you saving enough for retirement? You can count on government benefits if you think that’s all you’ll need. But if you live above that standard now, and you don’t want to be old and BROKE, you better start setting a little sumthin’ sumethin’ aside now, dontcha think?
Are you paying the least amount of tax possible? Okay folks, if you’re giving the tax-man one red cent more than you absolutely have to, you’re dumber than a sack of hammers. Use an RRSP to trim your taxes. Use a TFSA to earn tax-free return. Use an RESP to grab money from the tax-man for your kids’ education. Claim all your deductions. Keep your receipts organized. Get familiar with the tax booklet while you have your morning poop.
Is your money invested in the best vehicle for YOU? This is where I depart from all the other investment peeps. I don’t think “you should be in equities” or that “you need to be earning more on your investments.” I’m the girl that says you need to buy investments that suit you based on your level of understanding, your time horizon and your risk profile. Don’t let anybody talk you into anything. Buy what you know will work for YOU. But when you do, make sure you’re buying the best thing available. (If you still have your savings in a traditional bank earning next to nothing when there are other options offering a half to a full percent more in interest, you’re a dope.)