NEW YORK (
) -- It's hard to believe, but 2013 is already half over, and it's been quite a year for Americans looking to get the most from their money.
The stock market is climbing to new heights, floating around 15,000. Ten-year Treasury notes are rising and taking mortgage notes higher with them, and Americans are seeing the value of their homes
rise 15% from May 2012 to May 2013
In general, the first half of the year has been a breath of fresh air after stale fumes from 2008 through 2012 wafted across the U.S. economic landscape. But the six-month check-in isn't all about the economy's health. It's about your economic health, as well.
What's the best way to do that? According to
(AMP - Get Report)
, the Minneapolis financial services group, every financial consumers should run through a "midyear checklist" to sure their money management efforts are on the right track.
That checklist should target two primary categories, explained at length below by David Mazzetti, an Ameriprise Financial adviser in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.:
1. Effective ways to track income, expenses and overall progress toward specific financial goals, and maintaining a good budget.
The first step is to identify your financial goals. Whether it's buying a home, sending your child to college or creating
security in retirement
, having a tangible idea in mind of what you want to achieve will help keep you focused and committed to a budget.
Next, look back on your spending for patterns that affect your bottom line. Ask yourself questions. Has my income changed? Do I have an established budget that I stick to? Do I have any sizable, unanticipated expenses arisen that have thrown off my budget?
If you find that you are spending more than planned, make a plan to address the situation. For a lot of people, this means prioritizing spending and cutting back on unnecessary expenses to save more. Even small adjustments in spending behaviors can add up. We all know how easy it is to spend $10. Deciding to hold back on small expenses equaling $10 per day adds up to $3,650 in savings per year.