The end of the year is on the horizon. With just over two months left, it’s a great time to check in on your financial commitments and forecast. Holiday expenses, insurance options, and overall future planning are often part of the year-end wrap-up. Planning ahead can reduce your financial worries and help you be more prepared for the unexpected.
Honestly, who really wants to deal with money problems – especially at the end of the year? Making some key money moves will keep the pressure off. That way, aside from tying up a few loose ends, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the holiday season without financial stress.
Shop Around for Insurance
Look over your insurance plans for any changes or applicable discounts. It’s beneficial to compare and contrast plans each renewal period. Not only does it help you gain perspective and familiarity with your plan, among others, but it can also provide negotiating power with your existing provider.
Review Your Retirement Contributions
Retirement goals vary. Whether you choose to max out your retirement savings, meet your company’s 401(k) match, or open a retirement fund, it’s important to track your progress. Are you contributing the amount you’d like? Do you need to make adjustments?
Strategize Holiday Spending
Would a holiday budget be beneficial to you? It’s not uncommon to find yourself overextended during the holiday season. In fact, more than 30% of Americans took on holiday debt in 2021. If you could avoid carrying additional debt into the new year, would you?
Create a spending strategy that works for you. Brian and I choose to enjoy the holidays with food and family versus physical gifts. Instead of spending money on gifts, we’ve pivoted to save specifically for holiday meals.
Other ideas to strategize holiday spending include:
- Offset costs with credit card rewards and cash back programs
- Address and discuss spending limits
- Pay for expenses with cash in hand
- Swap monetary gift exchanges with the gift of time
Use Your Vacation Time
Time is money! Do you have any paid time off that you must use before the end of the year? Brian’s day job implements a Use It or Lose It PTO policy. So, with any vacation days left for the year, he’ll plan to use them before December 31st. If you also face a Use It or Lose It situation, make sure you use it. The stress of the job and endless to-dos will be there in January, but the time off won’t be.
Some jobs offer payment for unused vacation days. If this is available to you and extra cash is more your jam, then go for it! Use the benefits that are accessible to you.
Manage Your Flexible Spending Account
Speaking of benefits, if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) through work, remember to check on its balance. This tax-advantaged account can help you save money on taxes as long as you spend what you contribute. The caveat, of course, is that you must use the contributed amount towards specified health care or dependent expenses (depending on your FSA).
Review your account balance to confirm the amount you need to spend or transfer before the end of the year.
Check Your Credit Report
Check up on your financial health. Your credit report keeps you informed of any errors or signs of identity theft. It gives you a clear picture of your buying power and overall financial history.
New to credit? Check out our Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score for an overview of how your credit rating and credit report impact your goals.
Plan for Large Expenses
Consider your upcoming purchases for the next 6–12 months. Are you planning for education costs, a wedding, or a renovation? Is a new vehicle on your mind? Forecasting large expenses allows you to compartmentalize and prioritize your budgeting needs.
Research different tax rebates, credits, and deductions to learn which purchases could benefit you in more affordable ways.
An impending new year can stir up all kinds of thoughts and emotions. Take some time to review your financial goals from the past year. Did you achieve them? Were you partially successful in your efforts?
Life changes and certain circumstances can affect your trajectory. Make note of any changes. Consider where you would like to go and what you would like to accomplish in the future.
I think it’s important and cathartic to self-evaluate; not just personally, but also in a professional sense. Self-evaluation offers clarity and context for growth, change, and direction. Professional self-evaluation specifically encourages accountability and actionable analysis of data and success.
I recommend keeping a record of accomplishments, tasks performed, and challenges encountered. Take note of areas of improvement and track your progress. This information provides great insight for your own reference. It is also an excellent tool for negotiating salary increases and promotions in your career. Overall, self-evaluations serve as helpful reminders to focus on personal development and strive for achievement.
Avoid falling behind. The new year is almost here. Making these money moves will get you ready for the holidays and help you end the year strongly.
Do you have any other money moves you would make before the end of the year?