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Every year in Jan, I try to "plan" or take a look at some things just to revisit, recheck or reassess.

This is NOT meant to be a "new year resolution" thread, but more like a checklist of things to do atleast once or twice a year. Different things work for different people so let's not debate the timing or grouping of these activities. Some things make more sense for tax season, so this could serve as a checklist for that too. Lastly, some things cannot be planned (car requires immediate repair, medical condition requires surgery, etc) - this thread for things that we can think ahead on.

Here are some things from my list in random order, please feel free to add/update/etc -

- Determine Asset levels & liabilities as compared to last year (includes listing of all accounts)
- Obtain free credit report
- Obtain annual credit detailed reports (if your credit card company provides it) to assess spending levels, categories, etc.
- Assess Investment Strategy based on age to retirement/risk level.
- Create list of Gift Cards available at home (all of the 10 Target GCs should get listed now)
- Determine Cash Back opportunities on existing credit cards.
- Any new appliances required for the home or scheduled home improvements ?
- How much longer to keep existing cars ?
- Tentative Vacation Schedule.
- Summer or Winter plans
- Review last 2 years tax returns and start collecting documents as needed.
- W9 re-submit
- Determine cell phone coverage
- Determine home utilities - cable, internet, phone, electricity, etc
- Review Home Owner Insurance Coverage
- Review car insurance coverage
- Review medical plan benefits

I am sure the FW community will slice and dice this, so let's get going. Thanks for your time.

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Before 12/31 I always try to run one last projection of my tax situation for the year. From that I consider if there is anything I can do from a tax planning perspective to benefit. Some strategies to consider include tax loss or tax gain harvesting, prepaying January mortgage payment in the current year to increase my interest paid for the year, increasing 401k deferrals if my AGI is cutting it close for a credit or deduction, charitable contributions (gifting cash or appreciated stock).

I try to keep all of these things in mind throughout the year, but it helps to double check it at the end of they year when income, deductions, etc are mostly known. It doesn't take much time to go through this exercise, but if the situation is right, it could save you quite a bit in taxes...over time it really adds up.

It's also good to do year-end personal financial statements: budget review, income/expense statement, net-worth statement (balance sheet). This comes in handy if you apply for credit or anything else where you need to reference your assets. It's all listed out in one spreadsheet (and password protected of course).

i always review all my spending to see if there's anything that was out of whack during the past year, and determine how to address those overexpenses next year if needed.

and here I just try to stay awake past midnight, kudos!

I try to do my Annual Exam in January so I can assess what I'm doing correctly or not and try to keep it for the rest of the year.

Create a list (doesn't have to be long) of 1, 3, 5 & "long term" (10+ years) goals.

I've done this for the past 15 years, and while I don't hit all of them I do come much closer than if I don't have anything specific in front of me.

I'd bet that a lot of the FW superstars use written goals to give themselves direction.

Pick broad categories to help you organize: I use Work, Financial, Personal & Spiritual. 4-8 goals under each one works best; any more than 8 and it starts to get cumbersome and unlikely that you'll be directed to do any of them.

Examples: Save $20K in a savings account; Buy one rental house; Give 10% of income to charity; Pay off $200 of credit card debt per month; Increase income by 15%; Attain the highest performance rating during the annual review. You'll find out what you value and whether your priorities are out of whack pretty quickly just by scribbling down what easily comes to mind.

The key is to make them clear, short, actionable and realistic for the time period. If you're making $50K a year with a wife and 2 children, retirement in 3 years may not make sense. But if you're 28, you may want to put a long-term goal of retiring at 45. It will get you thinking about what you need to do to make that a reality. Even if you come up short, you'll still be better off than if you just aimlessly float from year to year to year.

Michael Hyatt has a free ebook that talks about creating a life plan on the right sidebar. It sounds similar to what orthros mentioned above and includes an annual review, quarterly reviews, and if I remember correctly monthly reviews of several goal areas. I've skimmed it and plan to dig deep into it during this Christmas break.

Check your accounts for any dubious charges.

Change your batteries and filters.

If you get a year end bonus take a portion and invest it before it disappears on nickle and dime stuff.
If you get an annual salary increase, plan to increase your 401 or Roth contributions a percent or so.
Clean house quickly and make your non cash donations by year end.
Use any FatWallet Cash Back available and start clean for the new year LOL

go to a gas station and use all the mothballed credit cards to get some activity on the card.

You mean you guys aren't glued to your account statements and net worth excel/google doc spreadsheets 24/7 like I am? Man now I feel weird...

I go through November's spending with a fine tooth comb. For me November is a very simple month. No vacations, no big family events, usually not too much material spending. It lets me see where I'm leaking small amounts of money which could still add up to $300-$400 over the course of a year.

I plan out most of my vacation time for the year. I get 22 days plus I can work MLK and President's Days and get comp time, so that's 24. I usually have my primary vacation for the year figured out and make a list of "if it's a good deal" 3-4 day weekends. For example, I'll pick out a May or June weekend and update a list of cities where I'd like to go if I can get a ticket for under $350, and another list for under $200.

Check the 500 condoms you bought earlier for $7 for expired ones.

Evaluate current love interest, determine to trade up or make modifications.......

Sell that loss maker stock before the year end ... up to $3K worth if no other losses to add to itemized deductions ... or review last year's sale for carry over losses to determine if you need this action for the year

Look at the 2013 5% CashBack credit card categories, pin it to my phone and plan accordingly.

invisible said:   Sell that loss maker stock before the year end ... up to $3K worth if no other losses to add to itemized deductions ... or review last year's sale for carry over losses to determine if you need this action for the year

...unless you qualify for the final year of the 0% long-term capital gains rate in 2012...in which case you should wait until JAN 2013 to sell, so that you don't piss away the capital loss...

Always check and update account and insurance beneficiaries.

gobigorgohome said:   Evaluate current love interest, determine to trade up or make modifications.......

I had an economics professor in college who taught this concept.

The idea is this: Statistically, the #1 most-attractive trait in women is their physical appearance, and in men is money/financial stability. Women tend to start out hot and become less attractive with age, whereas men start poor and become more attractive as they earn. Therefore, hot young women should be with rich old men, and vis versa. At the point that their relative attractivenesses differ more than the transaction cost of finding a new mate, they should split up.

I'm pretty sure this "rich old professor" was just trying to get into my female classmates' pants.

Men who are handsome in their youth, they also lose their attractiveness as they age. The trend is changing. Older women with money are getting young handsome men. The point is that money talks regardless of the appearance.

shopper711 said:   Men who are handsome in their youth, they also lose their attractiveness as they age. The trend is changing. Older women with money are getting young handsome men. The point is that money talks regardless of the appearance.

No, it's just you



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