No matter how much fun your summer is shaping up to be, it’s no time to put your finances on pause. Take a look at the past six months to gauge how you can adjust your strategic or tactical actions to ensure you’re making steady progress toward your financial goals.

Check In With Your Cash Flow
Is your spending under control, leaving you with a chunk of untouched income each and every month? If not, take a deep dive into your budget to see what your dollars are doing, and tighten that proverbial belt. And make sure your emergency fund is full so you’re not tempted to reach for short-term, high-interest debt when an unexpected need arises.

Look at Long-Term Goal Progress
If your cash flow and emergency fund are in good shape, point that unspent monthly chunk toward larger goals like retirement, kids’ college funds or other investment vehicles. Research has shown that time in the market may be more effective than trying to time the market. Now is an optimal opportunity to diligently and consistently fund investment accounts linked to your long-term goals.

Make Adjustments Based on Life Changes
Have there been any births, deaths, breakups, job promotions or other notable life changes since 2017 began? Milestone events can impact your financial plan and priorities in many ways.

You may need to tweak your insurance coverage, amend your estate planning documents or revisit the beneficiaries listed for your various accounts and policies. Let the appropriate professionals know; they will have the best guidance for each situation, but only if they’re aware of these changes in the first place.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Looking for a vacation that offers a spiritual break or the opportunity for introspection? Embarking on a pilgrimage where you walk historic paths and visit sacred sites may be the perfect vacation alternative. Here are a few historically significant options, whether you’re looking to go near or far.

International Destinations
Taking the time to explore other cultures on foot can put you in the frame of mind to savor nuanced details. Here are a few pilgrimage options:

  • Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s southerly islands, is home to an ancient pilgrimage trail honoring Buddhist monk Kukai. The approximately 750-mile course, which can take as many as 60 days to complete, features 88 intricate temples.
  • The Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Way of St. James,” leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, where legend says the apostle is buried. The trail contains several branches, though the last 62 miles of the Camino Frances is the most popular.
  • Take in the English countryside on a roughly 53-mile walk (including detours) along the Great Stones Way, which includes a stop at the prehistoric Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

Domestic Pilgrimages
You don’t have to look outside the U.S. to find a pilgrimage path. There are several across the country, including the following:

  • Navigate part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, which begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and leads to Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 70,000 Mormons traveled this 1,300-mile, five-state path in the mid-1800s to escape religious persecution.
  • If you’d like to make a journey by car, venture through the Texas Hill Country and stop by the area’s historic painted churches. These Czech- and German-inspired beauties built in the mid- to late 1800s feature intricate artisanal handiwork and bold colors.

Craving the kind of getaway that helps you hit the reset button in a deep, meaningful way? Find a pilgrimage that resonates with you.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

When was the last time you took a few vacation days and left work behind? In a 2016 Indeed poll of approximately 2,000 adults, 20 percent didn’t take a summer vacation and 59 percent of those who did worked while on the break. A busy work life with little to no time to unwind puts you at high risk for burnout. A well-planned sabbatical could be just what you need to recharge.

Taking an Extended Break
Employees may have a couple of options when it comes to getting away for a while. A sabbatical is a period of employer-approved leave that may or may not be paid; it can be as short as a month or as long as a year. When it’s over, you usually return to your job and pick up where you left off.

If you want more time away or don’t want to continue with the same employer, a career break may better suit you. Many who choose this type of hiatus quit their job and use the extensive period away from employment to travel, volunteer or work abroad. When the career break is over, they search for another job, often with a renewed sense of commitment.

Does Your Employer Have a Sabbatical Policy?
Many companies see value in offering a sanctioned gap year to top talent, especially when it comes to high-value employees with a thirst for adventure. If you’re interested, check with your company’s human resources department or scan your employee benefits package to see if a sabbatical policy exists.

When You Return
Once you have your sabbatical behind you, know how to leverage your time away during interviews and other career-related conversations. What lessons did you learn? How did the break make you better? What skills did you improve or acquire during your time away? Let your answers reflect the unique benefits only you can provide.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results

One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio’s Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day’s business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format.
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller “Freakonomics” may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist’s take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

With higher education costs escalating faster than traditional inflation, it’s important to treat the college selection process as the serious investment it is. Whether you, your child, grandchild or other loved one is researching colleges and universities, calculating the actual value of higher education can help whittle down the options and justify the escalating costs. Here are three interesting metrics to consider:

  1. Total Debt at Graduation — Earning an undergraduate degree is a crucial milestone, but starting a new life chapter saddled with tremendous debt can disrupt that momentum. States and institutions can take different approaches to student loans, so pay attention to the student debt trends at each university or college to set realistic expectations.
  2. Alumni Earnings Above Expectations — While U.S. News & World Report provides a popular college ranking list each year, the minds behind The Economist created their version with a unique, finance-oriented premise. The magazine’s first-ever ranking of four-year, nonvocational colleges is based on how much money graduates earn compared to how much they could have made had they studied elsewhere.
  3. Highest 4-Year Graduation Rates — While overall graduation rates matter, the ideal situation is earning the degree in as little time as possible since college costs can skyrocket as more semesters are added. Looking at graduation rates for those who completed college in four years can help prospective students find campuses with similar work ethics.

College is a booming business, and it’s critical to consider the financial impact from a variety of angles, especially if your goal is to help yourself or someone else on the path to lasting success

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Looking for long-term success? Some of the most productive people throughout history — from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs — put useful routines into practice the moment they woke. Just as a financial plan must be customized for each person, so should your morning routine. Personalize the details to suit your goals and lifestyle, and leverage new technology and time-tested wisdom to establish a healthy, lasting habit.

Focus on the Physical
For your mind to perform at its peak, your body must be well maintained and have energy to fuel your brain. This starts with eating a nutrient-rich diet and reaping the benefits of regular workouts. Caring for your mind and body as a daily, long-term practice can help guard against deterioration and illness. Because poor health can be expensive to fix with doctor visits, medication and procedures, it’s smart to invest in preventive care.

Automate the Hard Parts
When it comes to optimizing your ideal morning routine, you now have many mobile app options that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. For example, if you’re not an early riser by nature, consider an alarm clock app that can sense the optimal time to wake you up, or take advantage of curated playlists filled with energizing tunes chosen specifically to get your blood pumping.

Reflect and Engage
Each morning gives you a fresh start, so use it to ruminate and act on your personal priorities. Whether that’s spending some quality time with the family or enjoying a quiet meditation before the busy day begins, aim to bring a better sense of work-life balance and perspective to the tasks before you

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.