To make it easier on your holiday-occupied mind, we’ve created a financial checklist to make sure your funds and accounts are ready.
1. Review your yearly budget.
Do you track your monthly finances? Knowing where your money goes can help you figure out what you are doing right and where you’ve been going wrong. By evaluating your budget every year you can find areas in your saving strategy that aren’t meeting your expectations, and from there correct it. For instance, you should always make sure that you meet the maximum amount of contributions for your 401(k), especially if your employer matches a certain percent. In the case that you’re not, you should review your budget and see where expenses can be cut in order to allocate that to retirement. Maybe it’s spending less on entertainment or putting more funds into your retirement funds rather than emergency savings. But regardless, you need to have a write up of your budget to visualize where the money can come from.
Don’t have a yearly budget yet? In the case that you haven’t been tracking your yearly expenses (or even monthly expenses), the first item on your financial checklist for the coming year should be readiness to track all of your spending and saving. One of the easiest ways to do that is utilize Central Bank’s Money Manager. This personal financial management tool tracks the expenses on ALL of your accounts, including accounts from other institutions. Money Manager will track all of your checking, saving, credit card, loan, and investment accounts, so that you can have a clear picture of your finances.
2. Review your beneficiaries.
Look over your financial and health documents. When reviewing these important documents, make sure your beneficiary is still someone you feel comfortable inheriting or controlling your finances in your stead. After all, a lot can happen within a year – a spouse or significant other may not be involved in your life anymore, or children may be a new consideration.
3. Emergency fund.
At the beginning of every year, set a target amount for how much you should add during the year. Check your progress routinely to see how far ahead or behind you are – if you have been watching closely, you may even be right on track. For the upcoming year, take into account any new money that you’ve come into, new expenses that have come into play, and other miscellaneous factors, and adjust your contributions for the upcoming year.
4. Crunch the numbers on your credit debt.
Christmas shopping will likely have left your credit card balance higher than usual (if your credit card balance typically runs high that is a financial issue that you should address as a long-term issue). Make sure you start off your new year on the right foot by paying off any leftover debts from the shopping season and start your resolution with a clean slate.
5. Request your free annual credit report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, allows you to receive a free credit report annually from each of the three national credit reporting companies. “You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.”  If you have yet to review your credit report for the year, make a point to review it around every new year. Not only do you need to be aware of your credit stance, but monitor for the possibility of fraudulent charges or identity theft. You can request your free report at: annualcreditreport.com.
It is important to check on your financial well-being regularly. After your finances are in check you can relax knowing that it will be smooth sailing for your finances year round.
 Free Credit Reports, Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information