The first six months of 2023 ended Friday at midnight, so I spent part of Saturday (July 1) reviewing the Slife Family's financial numbers for the year's first half.
A mid-year review is helpful. Among other things, it helps gauge if your budget figures remain realistic ("Can you say 'inflation'?") and if your giving is on track.
I won't overwhelm you with details, but I'm happy to report that a mid-year budget assessment revealed our overall spending is very close to what we planned at the start of the year! (We track our spending month-by-month, of course, but a six-month view provides a better sense of how things might play out for the entire year.)
Not only was our overall spending within our set parameters, but we were within our projected spending in each specific category except one (we were slightly overspent on gift-giving).
Although we can't know what might occur over the next six months, it's reassuring that we're entering the year's second half in good shape.
(For more on conducting regular budget reviews, see Matt's recent article, "Managing to" the Numbers in Your Budget.)
Interest income and investments
With the run-up in savings-account interest rates in recent months, the Slife Family savings have earned significantly more interest than we used to. In fact, as of June 30, our 2023 interest income was already more than double what we earned in all of 2022!
Although interest shows up in our various bank accounts automatically, it doesn't automatically appear in our budget's "income" section. So part of our mid-year review included making spreadsheet adjustments to document that income and allocate it to various uses.
In our family, we use a "zero-sum" approach to budgeting that assigns a "task" to every dollar. For example, a dollar of income might be earmarked for a specific current expense, such as food, or saved for something upcoming, such as property tax. All the interest income we've received thus far this year has now been accounted for and allocated.
(There are many ways to budget, but for more on the zero-sum approach, see Zero-Sum Budgeting: Giving Every Dollar a Job.)
Our mid-year financial review also included looking at our investment holdings. Fortunately, that was a quick process since SMI Private Client manages most of our retirement money (based on our combined risk profile and season of life). I had only to check my workplace 401(k) holdings to ensure that my holdings were up-to-date with the blend of SMI do-it-yourself strategies I follow.
The overall financial plan
Lastly, I reviewed our entire financial plan in MoneyGuide. Because I had reworked our MoneyGuide plan earlier this year, the mid-year review mainly just refreshed my memory about our goals and provided a snapshot of our progress toward them.
Using MoneyGuide, I also reviewed our retirement timeline. (My wife has retired already, but, Lord willing, I have a few years yet to go!) The review showed that the timeline we've planned — and the related cash-flow considerations — still seem quite reasonable.
Try it, you'll like it!
If you haven't done a mid-year financial review, I encourage you to do so — at least to ensure you're on track with your spending, savings, and giving. And, if you're using MoneyGuide or some other kind of financial plan, a mid-year review will refresh your memory about your goals and how you're achieving them.
If you have done a first-half review for 2023, use the comments section below to tell us about your process. We'd love to hear from you.
Happy (belated) mid-year from SMI! (And have a great Fourth of July too!)