December tends to fly by in a flurry of holiday shopping, festive meals, exotic travel and family gatherings. It’s when we like to pack things in. But as the final month of the year, it’s also the perfect time to get your finances in order and prepare for the calendar change. Here’s a checklist of financial tasks to help improve your fiscal health in 2016.
Evaluating your budget is usually the first step towards securing a sunny financial future. Look at how much you spent in 2015 versus how much you want to save. This may require cutting certain expenses and shifting routine behavior. But budgeting allows you to examine past finances and incrementally improve them going forward. Analyze your spending patterns to see if there are any easy ways to save. Like typical diets, factor in “cheat” expenses so 2016 isn’t just about deprivation. Prioritize what matters most to you and create a budget to work around your personal happiness.
Plan For The Future
While retirement may not always be the first thing on your mind, the beginning of the year is a great time to set up those accounts to successfully build wealth. That often means contributing more to retirement funds. Depending on the type of adjustment you’re considering, research maxing out your 401(k) in terms of contributions to see if it’s even feasible.
If every new year you say to yourself that this is the time you’ll tackle debt, don’t put it off any longer. Develop a plan to reduce debt in conjunction with your monthly budget. Not only will you probably feel better, but also your credit score may greatly improve. Debt can saddle people for far longer than initially anticipated. In most cases, a little can go a long way. Commit to using a portion of your income to paying off outstanding credit card bills or whatever else ails your financial health.
Emergencies are usually unexpected and stressful. But just because you can’t see the future, doesn’t mean you can’t prepare yourself for it. That’s why for the New Year, save some money for unforeseen circumstances. That way, if something does happen, this is one less thing you have to worry about.
Since 2015 is almost history, are you and your finances ready for 2016? We’d love to hear from you. Share any insights in the comments.