The end of the year is typically a reflective time. Something about that lull between holiday festivities and New Year’s Eve sets the stage for introspection and review. While you’re busy reflecting on the year that’s ending and the new one about to begin, make sure you take some time to consider your finances.
Here are some financial tasks that should be on your must-do list before the calendar rolls over. Read on for some items that really can’t wait.
1. Take stock of your financial plans
If you have formal financial plans, take a step back and assess how they’re working for you. If you have a real document in place, that’s great. If your financial plan consists of a loose set of ideas in your head, that’s okay – but consider making that plan a little more concrete for the new year.
Has anything in your life changed since the beginning of the year? Marriage, the birth of a child, or a change of career are all reasons to revise your financial plans. Or maybe you’re navigating a job loss, an unexpected illness, or the loss of a loved one. Your plan from the beginning of the year may not resonate anymore, for a variety of reasons.
A lot can change in the course of a year. It’s okay if things change, but it’s important for you to shift as necessary. Your financial plan is a living document and should be updated accordingly. Take some time to reassess and adjust your plan as needed based on what’s happened in the past year.
2. Check your progress on your goals
If you’ve been saving for a large purchase or committed to making contributions to a savings account, check how that’s going. It’s easy in January to say that this is the year it’s finally going to happen for you. But it doesn’t mean a lot if you don’t check how you’re doing by year’s end.
If you made your goals, that’s great! If they fell by the wayside, take a look at what you could have done differently. Or, take some time to set a goal that’s more manageable so that you can get that sense of accomplishment next December.
3. Review your spending and saving habits
This is going to be a lot of fun if you made significant contributions to your savings accounts this year. The sense of accomplishment will give you some much-needed momentum to carry those habits into the new year.
If, however, you were a little more skilled at spending than saving, it might be time to have a talk with yourself. Take a look at where your money went, and if it didn’t go to something that makes you proud, reconsider those habits for next year.
Yes, it’s hard to deny yourself the things you want. But it’s terrible to be caught without any savings when you need them.
4. Consider your contributions
There are many accounts that benefit from a contribution before the year is over. Retirement or education savings plans would be good examples – or a tax-free savings account. This is also a good opportunity to review your charitable giving goals.
The end of the year is a time of change and new resolutions, but before you do take a look back. Check your progress over the past year – it’s the only way to know if your goals are working out. Before you make new ones, see how you did on the ones you set at this time last year.