With the end of the year now upon us, many will take time to reflect on 2013 and make plans and set goals for the upcoming year. A popular New Year’s resolution is to improve one’s personal finances and save more money. However, often times lack of preparation, as well as unplanned events and costs, prevent us from achieving our goals. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share helpful tips to help you improve your finances in 2014.
YEAR END FINANCIAL CHECKLIST
How well do you feel about your finances? Did you set a financial goal in 2013? If so, did you meet the goal? As you begin to think about your financial plan for 2014, we challenge you to complete this financial checklist. As you review the list, place a check next to each item that aligns with your current financial practices and status. For the items you have yet to achieve, consider adding them to your list of New Year’s Resolutions.
___ I have both a checking and savings bank account.
___ I have enough money each month to pay my rent/mortgage payment and other household expenses.
(Your total housing payments should not exceed 28%-30% of your gross income.)
___ I keep organized financial records and can locate important documents.
___I have an emergency fund of at least 4 to 6 month worth of living expenses.
___I know my credit score.
___ I compare prices with at least 3 sources for major purchases.
___ I pay my bills on time to avoid late fee charges.
___ I pay my credit card bills in full to avoid interest charges.
___ I track my spending and compare to a budget.
INVESTMENT & PLANNING
___ I calculate my net worth (assets minus debts) annually
___ I have a personal investment account for retirement
TIP: Individual finances (bills, debt, etc.) will determine how much you are able to invest; when possible you should at least match your employer’s contribution.
___ I have money spread across more than one type of investment (e.g. stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, CDs.
TIP: To calculate the percentage of your total portfolio (assets) invested in stock, subtract your age from 110.
___ I have adequate insurance to cover “big” unexpected expenses, such as a hospital bill or an accident.
___ I have sufficient life insurance.
TIP: The recommendation is to have enough life insurance to replace at least 5 years of your salary;10 years if you have children.
___ I know my federal marginal tax bracket.
___ I track my charity donations and/or business expenses for my tax purposes.
This checklist is just the beginning of a solid financial foundation. The best gift you can give yourself for the year end is to first review your past year finances and then make a list of your financial goals for the coming year. Here are some helpful ideas to add to your financial New Year’s resolutions.
IDEAS FOR THE NEW YEAR
- Become an Expert: Choose one area related to your personal finances to work on gaining a deep understanding.
- Reduce Your Debt: Create a plan to pay off (or pay down) your debt.
- Spend Less, Save More: Take advantages of coupons and reduce wasteful spending.
Anjeli Singh-Fleurejuste is a member of the Xi Mu Chapter in Central Florida and works as a Senior Auditor.