Annual Financial Checklist: Secure Your Future with These Essential Steps
The Ultimate Month-By-Month Annual Financial Checklist
If you want to get a better handle on your financial situation, having a financial checklist can be extremely beneficial. Much like a regular maintenance schedule for a vehicle, your financial health needs periodic attention and maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly. Here is a month-by-month financial checklist that can help you stay on top of your financial goals throughout the year.
January: Review and Set Financial Goals
Start the year by assessing your financial health. Look back on the past year: What were your biggest financial accomplishments and challenges? Then, set new financial goals for the year. These could range from reducing debt to increasing savings, or even planning for a significant purchase like a house or car.
February: Tax Preparation
In February, start gathering necessary documents for tax filing. This includes W2s, 1099s, mortgage interest statements, and receipts for charitable donations. If you’re doing your taxes yourself, look for a reliable tax software. If you’re using a tax professional, schedule an appointment early to avoid the rush.
March: Review and Adjust Budget
With two months of the year already passed, you should have a good idea of your current financial status. Use this information to adjust your budget for the rest of the year. Consider any changes in income, bills, or lifestyle that might have occurred.
April: Retirement Planning
April is a great time to review your retirement savings. If you’re not already maximizing your contributions to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or IRAs, consider increasing them. You can also reassess your retirement goals and the investment strategy you’re using to achieve them.
May: Check Your Credit Score
In May, request a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Check for any inaccuracies and report them immediately. Your credit score can affect your interest rates on loans and your ability to rent or buy a home, so it’s essential to keep it in good shape.
June: Mid-Year Financial Review
Take some time in June to conduct a mid-year financial review. Are you on track to meet the financial goals you set in January? If not, figure out what adjustments need to be made.
July: Insurance Check-Up
In July, review all of your insurance policies, including home, auto, life, and health. Make sure you have enough coverage and that you’re not overpaying. Also, ensure your beneficiaries are up-to-date.
August: Back-to-School Budgeting
If you have children, back-to-school shopping can be a significant expense. Plan and budget for it in advance to avoid overspending.
September: Plan for the Holidays
In September, start planning for holiday spending. Save money, plan your budget, and think about gift ideas. It’s easier to enjoy the holidays when you’re not stressed about money.
October: Review Your Estate Plan
In October, review your will, power of attorney, and any trusts you have in place. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, consider creating one. It’s an essential part of financial planning.
November: Prepare for Year-End Tax Moves
Consider making any year-end tax moves in November. This might include selling stocks at a loss to offset capital gains, or making additional contributions to tax-advantaged accounts.
December: Year-End Review
Finally, in December, review the financial progress you made during the year. Did you meet your goals? What could you have done better? Use this information to set new goals for the following year.
This month-by-month checklist can help you stay on top of your financial health throughout the year. Remember, it’s just a guide – you can modify it to better fit your personal financial situation. The key is to stay proactive and organized, and to regularly review and adjust your financial plan.