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If you’re looking for New Year’s Resolutions, this isn’t the place. I simply don’t believe in them. Instead, let’s talk about some simple activities and changes that you can make to set you up for success! Since most of us run on a calendar year, December is a great time to finetune your bookkeeping habits. Here are a few ways you can get ahead in the final weeks and organize your finances for the new year:
Prep for Tax Prep
Don’t be a last-minute filer this year. Take an hour or two to start gathering important documents now and creating a safe place for incoming statements and final expenses. That way as other items come in the mail you already have a designated location to put them.
Documents you can pull now while you wait for year-end statements and income reports include:
- Last years returns
- Personal info (SSNs, birthdates, addresses)
- Gambling wins/loses
- Moving expenses
- Charitable contributions/donations
- Business expenses to date
New Filing System
While you prepare to box up the current year’s documents and statements, take a minute to evaluate your current filing system.
- Am I able to easily and quickly locate what I need?
- Is my system consistent and organized?
- What can I do to make this process more efficient next year?
Finding the smoothest system for your household may require some trial and error, but you’ll find it’ll save time and sanity in the long run.
Here are some products that may get your ideas flowing:
I know, I know. Selecting, changing, and remembering passwords to dozens of sites and programs sucks. I’ve recently made it my mission to simplify this process.
Try an online app such as LastPass or go old school with a mini notebook as shown in the kit above.
Below are examples of login info you’ll want to record:
Financial sites – Bank, PayPal, Stocks, IRAs
Email Accounts – Work and Personal
Shopping sites – Ebates, eBay, Amazon, Target
Business programs – WordPress, Google Analytics, Square
Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram
Changing your passwords all at once (when possible) and frequently will help keep your personal information safe and secure.
Whether you like numbers or not, everyone should be aware of their personal spending habits. Use past bank statements to predict future expenses, or many banking sites will automatically separate your spending into commonly used categories for you.
Do you always vacation in a certain month? Plan on saving early.
If you have children, you know to budget for school supplies in Sept.
Having even a rough game plan of your future finances will help eliminate the stress of forgotten and unexpected expenses.
Check your bank statements to identify these recurring monthly expenses and decide which ones are still of value to you. You may be surprised by how much you can save each month by canceling those you’ve either forgotten about or no longer use.
- Beauty boxes
- Music apps
- Sattelite radio
- Streaming services
If you’re a small business owner like myself, you may also be signed up for yearly subscriptions to sites such as Photoshop, Canva, and Cinchshare. If you don’t use these regularly, you may want to explore cheaper or free alternatives. (I recommend apps that I use for graphics creation here)
If you find yourself forgetting important dates or annual events, start filling in your calendar now. Things you know in advance are:
Annual vision, dental & health check-ups
While I love my Plum Planner and bullet journals, any printed tracker will work as long as you remember to use it!
With these simple and effective tips, you should have control over your new year’s finances in no time! What other tips have you found useful? Please share them below! And don’t forget to Pin this post for future reference 😀
Julia KaasaDecember 7, 2018
Great suggestions! The budgeting makes complete sense but I had never really thought about it – I do a yearly budget for my business, but never thought about applying that concept (even loosely) to my personal budget. I’ve always just kinda ran a month to month budget, which usually works but has made it difficult to be prepared for costs that recur yearly!
Cassandra HillDecember 7, 2018
Thanks Julia! It’s those random yearly expenses that always catch me off guard, like vehicle tabs, dental insurance, oil changes…