Financial Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Year End
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We’re well into fall now and will be heading into the holidays soon. It’s a great time to take care of some financial to-do items before the new year to help save some money and improve your life.
This list will help you to prepare your home for winter, build an emergency fund, create a budget, and more.
1. Winterize Your Home
If you live in an area that experiences the four seasons, then you know that a leaky home can really spike your winter heating bills. If you have an older home, here are some things you can do to help make your home more energy efficient:
- Insulate your windows
- Replace faulty door seals and weather stripping
- Wrap any pipes that might freeze
- Tune-up your heating system and change any filters
- Reverse ceiling fans to push heat down
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Clean your chimney and/or fireplace
- Swap any lightweight curtains for thermal lined curtains or drapes
- Clean your gutters
2. Prepare Your Car For the Winter
If you have your own vehicle, it’s a great time to check your oil, filters, and fluid levels before winter. Replace your wiper blades if they are getting worn. Clean out your car interior and the inside of your windshield. Inspect your tires for wear and tear and maybe have them rotated and balanced. Tires that are too worn can be dangerous on slick roads.
3. Check Your Health Insurance Enrollment
Many companies have their open enrollment period for making updates to employee health insurance towards the end of the year. Take some time and research to make sure you have the best health insurance plan for you and your family. You may be able to take advantage of a high-deductible health plan coupled with a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA can help you realize significant tax savings and save for the future. The contributions are tax-free, the growth is tax-free, and the distributions for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.
4. Max Out Your Retirement Savings
Check to see how much you’ve contributed this year to your 401(k) and/or IRA. If your budget allows, you could increase your contributions to take advantage of the maximum allowable for the year. You can find out more information about the contribution limits on the IRS website.
If you don’t already have an IRA set-up, check out my related investing blog posts for more helpful information:
5. Use Your Paid Time Off
If you still have vacation days left from your employer, make plans to use them up before the end of the year. Some employers won’t let you roll vacation days over to the next year. If that’s the case, you definitely don’t want to lose them. You’ve worked hard to earn some time off!
I usually save some days for the end of the year in case I get sick, and to take time off around the holidays. It’s a great time to recharge and spend time with family.
6. Create a Budget
If you don’t have a budget, now is a great time to plan one. You’ll be able to head into the new year with a plan for your finances. It can even help you reach financial goals for next year.
Creating a good budget includes determining your monthly income and expenses, setting goals, and making and adjusting the budget plan. Check out my blog post on budgeting: 7 Steps to Create a Personal Budget.
Some of the tools I mention in my blog post that can help you with creating a budget:
- PocketSmith: PocketSmith is one of the most customizable digital budgeting tools available that can help you with planning and tracking your budget. Use my link to save 50% off your first two months of their premium plan.
- Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps Plan: Dave Ramsey created a 7 step plan to save for emergencies, pay off debt for good, and build wealth. He also has a popular budgeting app called EveryDollar and a best-selling book called The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.
- Clever Fox Budget Planner: If you prefer a tried-and-true, non-digital method of tracking your budget, this is a best-selling budget planner that comes in many different colors to choose from.
7. Start Building an Emergency Fund
Having an emergency fund is great for peace of mind. I saved a little each month to build up my emergency fund. I feel so much better knowing that if I lose my job or if I need to take an extended time away from work, I have funds to cover that.
You can include saving for an emergency fund as part of your budget. In Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps Plan, he recommends saving $1,000 for a starter emergency fund, and then building 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund after paying off all debt, except for your house.
Check out my blog post on building an emergency fund: How to Save $1,000 for an Emergency Fund in 90 Days or Less.
8. Shop For Cheaper Car Insurance
You may be able to save some money by shopping around for car insurance. It’s easy to put your car insurance on auto pilot, but taking the time to do a little checking around could be worth your while. Insurance rates among the carriers can vary widely, especially when you’re younger. When I was younger, I would usually check around at other rates about once a year. Sometimes the savings wasn’t significant, but over time it adds up.
9. Use Your FSA Funds
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a special account offered by some employers that can be used for certain out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The benefit is that you don’t pay taxes on the amount you put into the FSA. For most FSAs, you have to use up the funds by the end of the year, or you lose them. Some provide a grace period, but you still lose any remaining funds when that time is up.
If you still have funds left and have been putting off any medical visits or dental work, schedule an appointment with your provider so you don’t love any of your hard-earned savings.
10. Obtain Life Insurance
If you want to provide financial security for your loved ones, you may want to obtain life insurance. Life insurance can protect your loved ones from financial losses if you die prematurely. Depending on your situation and needs, there are different types of life insurance policies you can get. You should take an inventory of your assets and debts to see how much life insurance you will need.
Check out some of my other posts on saving, making, and investing money:
- 17 Ways to Save Money This Fall
- 5 Websites to Make Money With Print on Demand
- How Does Compounding Affect My Investments?
- Why Should I Invest in an IRA?
- Which IRA is Right For Me – Traditional or Roth?
- How to Save $1,000 for an Emergency Fund in 90 Days or Less
Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational purposes and is not tailored for the needs of any specific investor. It is important to conduct your own analysis and research before making any investment. It is recommended to independently research and verify or seek financial advice from a professional in connection with any information on this website before using it to make an investment decision or otherwise.