7 financial tasks to do before the end of the year

The end of the year is a good time for checking financial tasks off your list, because of deadlines, but also it’s a good time for reflection.

December can be a hectic month. If you’re someone who celebrates holidays, it can be a financial challenge, but even if you don’t celebrate much, there always seems like there’s a lot going on, both at work and at home.

Because of this, it can be easy to just coast through to the end of the year, reacting to whatever life throws your way, and not stopping to breathe until January.

But contrarily, now is actually a really good time to take care of some basic financial tasks that will put you in a good position for the coming year.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and there are certainly other things you can (and should) do, but I figured a list titled “38 financial tasks to do” might be just a tad overwhelming, so I decided to pare down to what I thought would provide the most impact.

Check your retirement contributions

If you have earned income, you can contribute to a retirement account.

If your job offers it, you can contribute to a 401(k) or similar plan, but even if not, you can still contribute to an IRA.

These accounts are tax-advantaged, meaning that money that is put in one of these accounts can earn you potentially more than if you just invested in a normal brokerage account.

The contribution limits different depending on your age and circumstances (here is the info for IRAs and 401(k)s), but if you can put money into one of these accounts, it’s a good idea.

As I’ve long said, everyone needs to become a millionaire. And this is how you do it.

Now, you don’t need to do this by the end of the year, as you have until tax time to contribute for the year, but it’s a good time to start thinking about what you can afford to invest. Your future self will thank you.

Spend your FSA money

One place where you don’t have time to waste is in spending your Flexible Spending Account money, if you have one through your employer. These funds may expire at the end of the year, and if they do, you can’t get them back.

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Luckily, you can buy lots of things with FSA money. While I had some silly experiences trying to spend FSA money in the past, I’ve had better luck recently with online stores like the FSA Store.

Just don’t let this money—which was taken out of your paycheck—expire.

Get your credit reports

It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen your credit reports. I know it’s been a while for me, so I’m not pointing fingers.

Luckily, getting your credit reports are easy and free. I say reports (plural) because there are three agencies that offer credit reports—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—and you want them all.

Why do you want them all? Because they are all different, and you want to check them all for errors or mistakes. And, heaven forbid, you have been a victim of identity theft and someone has opened up accounts in your name, you want to figure that out as quickly as possible.

Credit reports are important, and arguably, more important than your credit score.

And these days, you can get your credit reports basically as often as you could possibly want them. Get them here.

Cancel some subscriptions

I’d imagine that you probably have more subscriptions than you are using.

That’s because subscriptions are so sneaky; they sign you up and then you just forget about them. If you don’t track your spending closely, they can hang around for months or even years, sucking away money for something you only used once.

So it’s time to cancel some subscriptions. Go look back at your previous few bank statements, and see if it jogs your memory. Then ask yourself, are you really using that service? Remember, you can always resubscribe if you miss it later.

Personally, I’d also put in a vote for canceling Amazon Prime, but I know I’m an outlier here. Just cancel what you aren’t using, and this will add lots of flexibility to your monthly spending right away.

Check if your spending is in line with your income

You also want to check if you’re spending all the money you make, or if you’re perhaps spending more than you make. Remember that great Wilkins Macawber quote, and remember that you want these things to be equal.

I have tools you can use to help track your spending as part of my 5-Day Money Reset mini-course. It’s free, so sign up today.

Decide if your income is where you want it to be

Financial wellness is not just about “spending less”. You also need to ensure that you have the money you need for your life and your goals.

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So ask yourself, as the new year rolls around, what do you want to be making next year? Don’t just say, “I want to make more money.” Come up with a specific figure. Or, alternately, look around at other people in your field, and see what they’re making, and if it’s more than you, pick that number.

You just want to find a concrete number that will allow you to do the things you want in your life, both now and in the future.

Dream

Finally, take some time to dream.

What do you want your life to look like? If it doesn’t look like this now, how can you make it more in line with your dreams?

Dreaming is a muscle, and one that many of us let go in our day-to-day life. But it’s also probably the most important step on this list, because dreaming helps give structure to our busyness. It helps form the “why” of lives, why we do what we do.

Muscles can be strengthened. And the more you dream, the better, and clearer your dreams will be.

Then, in the new year, you go for it.

Change your financial life

Next year doesn’t have to be the same as this year. Whatever you struggled with, you’re not fated to struggle with it forever.

It you want help making sense of your financial life, and getting rid of money anxiety once and for all, you want to work with a financial coach. Reach out to me and let’s work together to make it happen.

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