“Take 10” – An End-Of-Year Financial Checklist (2 min. read)
This is a good time to look back on the past 12 months and look ahead to a new year. Be honest as you hit these 10 key check points for managing your finances and reviewing goals and objectives.
This can help get you started, and potentially show you where you have been diligent and can say, “Yes! I’ve got that handled!” and where you can say, “It only takes a minute and it’s worth doing to have peace of mind and a good feeling about where I am at with my budget and plans!”
BUDGET: How did you do on your budget for the year? Did you make a budget for clarity on what you brought in each month and what went out each month? Did you spend more than planned or save and invest more/less than you hoped to? Is this an area where you get to pat yourself on the back, or one that bears some scrutiny and effort to be clear on where your money is going and how much?
INCREASING YOUR INCOME: If you find you need more income to meet your obligations, put specific goals in writing and begin to move forward on earning extra money along with reducing your spend where possible to get yourself to a better profit: loss (or assets/liabilities) ratio.
UPCOMING CAPITAL EXPENSES: Do you need to plan for a large expense in the next 12 months (car, wedding, trip, dental/medical)? Maybe your home needs repairs. Do your research to find not only the best pricing, but the best options for paying this big bill, whether that means saving up the cash, putting it on a card and paying it off quickly, taking a personal loan, refinancing, or postponing the timing of the expenditure.
TAX TIME: Do you have a jump on your tax return by having all your receipts and documents in a folder? Do you have your tax preparer selected and ready to go when you get your statements?
GIFTS: Do you have a list of charitable giving recipients and amounts for 2021 and intentions for the year ahead? Have you made pledges that need to be honored by December 31?
RETIREMENT: Are you comfortable with your retirement accounts, whether you are putting money into them, managing the investments you have, or doing an annual review with your advisor in order to confirm goals for performance and time horizons?
INTEREST: Are you maximizing interest earned on any cash savings and/or getting the lowest interest rate on any debt you are paying off?
ACCURATE RECORDS: Is your address up to date on all your accounts to be sure you are not missing any correspondence and important notifications? Do you have the correct beneficiary listed on all accounts? Do you have a list of accounts and numbers? You might want to check and be certain you’ve closed old ones for a clean credit score
LONG-TERM PLANNING FOR YOUR HEIRS: Are you protecting your loved ones with life insurance that you understand? Have you checked to be sure it is the best policy for you cost-wise and coverage-wise? Have you discussed your health care directives and finished any forms to be sure your wishes are followed? And . . .
ESTATE PLANNING: Is your will current and on file and notarized?
Once you take 10 and come out affirmative in each “category” it’s time to celebrate you.
Congratulations for doing the work to have a balanced financial life and a positive outlook for the future! Happy New Year!
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