2022 has just flown by, and the new year is now upon us. Unfortunately, losing track of your finances is easy, and many people have struggled to bolster their savings over the last few years.
That’s why you need a financial checklist that will jumpstart your financial position moving into 2023 so that you have everything organized and a plan in place.
1. Organize your documents
If there’s one thing that we’re all guilty of when it comes to our finances, it’s losing track of all the different documentation that comes with it.
Whether it’s online statements or paper records, having your documents up-to-date, easily accessible, and sensibly organized can make a huge difference going into the new year.
This might be in folders on your computer, it might be in online account services, or it might even be a physical folder that you keep in a secure location – like a heavy-duty safe.
Knowing where to look to see what is happening with your money is the first step toward financial control.
Next, it will make it easy for you to keep track of your accounts and investments and ensure nothing important gets lost.
2. Check your investments
When you know where everything is, it’s time to check in on your investments. Of course, having a diversified portfolio of assets is excellent, but you can’t just ignore them and hope that the money is moving in the right direction.
Take stock of your current financial situation by reviewing all of the assets that you currently have.
This will allow you to see your starting point in 2023 and help you set realistic goals as the year progresses.
3. Assess your liabilities and insurance payments
Of course, your financial position will not be all investments and savings – you also need to know what liabilities and outgoings you are facing.
For many Americans, debt and outstanding payments are the most significant barrier to financial security. Losing track of where money is owed can make it almost impossible to free yourself from that burden.
With your documentation in order, you can fully assess the statements for your credit cards, housing loans, car payments, personal loans, student loans, and other currently outstanding debt.
You should also look over your insurance and ensure everything is in order to get the right coverage at the right price.
If you are struggling to overcome your debt, you might want to think about a restructuring or consolidation plan, which can help make things much more manageable.
4. Check your credit
Your credit score is how the rest of the world sees your financial situation. It might feel like a burdensome number to most of us, but having a positive credit score will be a significant part of all of your financial decisions over the next year.
Ideally, you should check your credit score monthly to look out for any surprises and keep track of how that number changes. Something needs to be altered if you’re moving in the wrong direction.
5. Set a reasonable budget
Once you have reviewed your accounts, assets, liabilities, and credit score, you will be in a good position to set a budget for the year ahead. Of course, you might already have a budget of some kind in place, but we often drift from the plans we make, and your financial situation will have changed – not to mention the increased cost of living in recent months.
Look carefully at every outgoing expense you need to make over the course of a month, a quarter, and a year.
Then, compare this directly with your income to understand what a reasonable budget will look like, focusing on ensuring that money goes to the most important places first. Besides your rent, food, bills, utilities, and paying off debt should be your priority.
6. Establish an emergency fund
You need to be prepared for the unexpected if you are going to make progress on your savings throughout 2023. The last few years have shown just how easy it is for circumstances to change and how financially damaging it can be if you are not ready.
An emergency fund would hopefully be significant enough to cover your expenses for between one and two years, although that might be more of a target than an achievable starting point. This safety net will mean that you can weather sudden changes, even those as significant as being out of work for a prolonged period of time.
Without a fund like this, even a broken boiler or a car accident can wipe out all the hard work that you are putting in.
7. Plan your taxes
The tax season begins as soon as the holiday festivities are over. Don’t put off planning your taxes, as you are likely to end up paying more if you don’t have the time to go through everything carefully ahead of the deadline.
Go over the required documents ahead of tax time so that nothing falls through the cracks and you aren’t panicking when you file.
It’s always worth talking to a tax professional who can let you know the benefits you could take advantage of and help you avoid any costly mistakes.
8. Reassess for the future
The end of the year is an excellent time to take stock and consider where you are and where you will go next. You may have increased risk factors in your life, like age, dependents, debt, and personal health.
You might also be getting closer to retirement, so you should check your contributions. You have until December 31st to put money into your 401(k) and until April 15th for IRA contributions.
2023 is fast approaching, and you must take charge of your financial situation to prepare for the new year. Get your documents in order, review your assets, and take steps towards greater financial security today.
This financial checklist is a great place to start, but it is also worth talking to a financial planner to develop an even more robust plan for the future.
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