Barely 2 more days to go and we will be ringing in 2014. As with most years, this is a time that puts me in reflection mode. I think through my year, acknowledge mistakes and do some ‘house keeping’ in preparation for my 2014 goals.
I have to admit I do not always check off everything on my list but it is a good guide to plan for a new year. As I go down my list, I figured you might find it helpful too. Please comment with any additional items you think should be on this list.
- Declutter: If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to clean out your closet(s) and make a donation to Salvation Army or a similar non profit organization. This will benefit you when tax time comes.
- Give a Little More: Now is the time to support a charity. Give a little to those in need. Don’t forget to request a receipt. This is another great write off item when tax time comes.
- Save for Education: If you do not already have a 529 plan and you have kids or plan to continue your education then now is a good time to start one. You can learn more about them here
- Check your Credit Health: Take a pulse on your credit. Pull out your credit report and your score to see where you stand. This will help you identify ways of improving your credit in the coming year if you need to.
- Plan your 2014 monthly budget: Budgeting is the cornerstone of financial success. Now is a good time to review your budget and make any necessary adjustments. Automate as much as possible. If you need help with budgeting, here is a really good video that can help.
- Make use of your FSA: With the year almost out, you barely have time to make use of your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars so they do not go to waste. It is use-it-or-lose-it so make sure you are not throwing your money away. Find out if your FSA has a grace period. If they don’t, make sure you see your doctor and do any needed procedures before the calendar year turns over.
- Review your 401k and other Investments: Now is a good time to take a look at your portfolio and how it performed and do some rebalancing if needed. Look for opportunities to increase your 401k contribution if you are not currently at the max. The 2014 401k max for people under 50 is $17,500 a year. People over 50 can go up to $23,000 a year.
- Get your Unclaimed Money: Did you know there are billions of unclaimed money held by the government owned by individuals? The thing is, most people don’t even know they are owned anything. You can go to www.unclaimed.org to find out. It’s free and besides, if you discover you are owed money, those unplanned dollars can go toward an expense.
- Find out your Net Worth: Yeah, this is one that takes stock of your financial position. It is a good thing to do every year so you can plan better as the new year comes around. Here is a calculator that can help you determine your net worth. There are many other free calculators on line that do the same thing.
- Review your Insurance Policies: Re-evaluate your coverage and make sure it meets your needs. You might also find that you have items included in your coverage that you don’t need.
- Update your Beneficiaries: Review your 401k, Insurance and any instruments that can have a beneficiary and make sure the correct beneficiary is listed to account for any changes in your life so far.
- Create/Review your Estate Plan: This isn’t the most pleasant thing to think about but a very important one. None of us can predict tomorrow so its best we plan for the one thing that is guaranteed even though we don’t know when it will happen; our inevitable departure from this life as we know it. So a Will for starters is important … and no, this isn’t just for the rich. While at it, you might want to consider adding a social media Will too. If you already have a plan in place then now is a good time to review it. Some of you may be questioning the relevance of an estate plan so here is an article that can help you learn more.
As you can see from my checklist, there is plenty to do in preparation for 2014 so let me get to work …