Many people come up with resolutions for the new year, they start off great, but fade away in the upcoming months. Take joining a gym for instance. You start off the year saying you’re going to go to the gym every day to you can work toward your goal of losing weight, and you start strong, regularly going, maybe even for a few months, then something happens. You start missing a day, a week, a month, and then pretty soon you are paying for a membership you haven’t been to in a year. It’s a waste of money for us, but no doubt the gyms love it, as they can continue to sign new customers without worrying of being overcrowded. When it comes to setting your finances up for success, let’s make this resolution count.
Get Donations in Order
In the next month or so we will start to get our w-2’s, and year-end paperwork to start putting our tax information together, so you may not know until then if you are going to get a refund or owe when it comes time to file. Since there are a couple weeks left in the month, it’s perfect timing to get your donations in order. You can clean out your closet with clothes that you no longer wear and even round up the items in the basement or attic that are collecting dust.
Clear Out Old Paperwork
By the time the end of the year comes, I’m not sure why all this paperwork has been collected, but now may be a good time to scan and upload any documents you need, and shred the remaining, not to mention those that are too old to be relevant anymore. With the digital age in full effect, there really is no reason to keep a file cabinet of documents any longer. While you clean your house in the spring, you can tidy up getting rid of old documents while it’s cold out, and start the new year off with a fresh start in your drawer.
Check Your Credit Report
You hear so much about fraud these days, whether it’s scanning your card at the gas pump or while it’s out paying a tab before you can put the card away, not to mention stores and restaurants getting hacked, and even a credit bureau this year. Affecting so many customers, you never know if it’s you, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of your credit report to review for accuracies. While you are not able to view your score, each of the three credit bureaus offer a free copy of your credit report once a year, and you can see your score on your monthly credit card statements.
Now that paying bills no longer means sitting down and writing out checks for the month and paying via online accounts, you will have a separate login and password for each account. While it’s probably a good idea to have them, all written down and kept in a safe place at home, having them as similar username’s or email address as the login, and the passwords being the same, can simplify logging in and out of each account every month.
Review Investment Performance
Whether it is your 401k, brokerage, college fund, or even a savings account to double check the balance, it’s always a good idea to take a look at least once a year to see how your investment performance is doing. While it can be stressful to check relatively often, seeing the amount of times the prices fluctuate, if you are in it for the long haul, it may not be necessary, only to check to see to make sure your accounts are trending in the right direction, or if you need to make any changes to try and maximize your performance in the upcoming year.
Start to Reduce Expenses
Really one of the best ways to set yourself up for financial success is to free up extra money each month so you can use that extra money to pay off debt and contribute to your emergency fund and retirement account. Whether that is skipping going out to eat in favor of grocery shopping, checking is lyft or uber cheaper, or really sitting down and taking last month’s credit or debit card statement to see each purchase and can determine if they were necessary or could have been avoided, to at least pay attention where every single dollar is going every month.