End of Year Financial Planning | What's on Your Financial Checklist?
Keep your finances in order with a financial checklist. Now is the time to start your end of year financial planning.
Updated on Dec 19 2019
For many, the end of the year is a time of reflection. While we look back at what we accomplished, it’s important to start making resolutions for the future. Losing weight, eating healthier, and getting organized are all common resolutions, but don’t forget to look at your finances from the past year and create new milestones moving forward. Now is the time to start your end of year financial planning.
Financial planning should be one of your top resolutions for the new year. Setting up a financial planning checklist now helps to ensure successful retirement planning. What do you need to take care of before 2020? Here are some items to add to your financial checklist.
Determine your overall financial planning goals
You may have a general idea of your investment or retirement goals, but this is the time to really get serious. Do you know the difference between financial planning and retirement planning? Did you meet your financial goals over the last year? Determine what your successes were and how you can improve over the next year and beyond. Being mindful of your goals throughout the year will help set you up for success.
Set up a detailed budget
Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does intimidate many Americans. Taking an honest look at your spend throughout the year will keep you accountable. It’s easy to spend $4 on a latte a few times a week, but those small purchases add up. A simple excel spreadsheet will work, but if you want to make it easier on yourself, download an app like You Need a Budget (YNAB) or Mint and they will do most of the work for you.
If you have debt, make a plan to get rid of it now
According to NerdWallet, the average American household in 2016 had around $16,000 in credit card debt. This is a staggering amount and can cripple any retirement plans. Pay down this debt as quickly as possible for maximum retirement contributions.
Confirm tax withholding
Revisiting your tax withholding is important to do toward the end of the year. “Changes in dependents, income, and marital status can all affect your tax bill.” The IRS provides a withholding calculator tool so that you can make certain your withholdings are correct.
Audit your 401(k) and other retirement accounts
If your current employer offers a matching 401(k) contribution plan, taking advantage of it is free money in your account.
As of 2019, an individual is able to contribute up to $6,000 to a Roth IRA every year and that increases to $7,000 once an individual is 50 or older.
Review estate plans
At least once a year it’s a good idea to review your estate plans and ensure that the right people will take over your wealth at the end of your life. Investopedia gives us a list of estate planning to-do’s and that includes limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts, establishing a guardian for living dependents, creating/updating beneficiaries on plans like life insurance, IRAs and 401(k)s, and setting up a durable power of attorney.
Monitor your credit report
Regularly monitoring your credit report will keep you up to date and alert you to any suspicious activity. After the Equifax breach, it’s important to remain vigilant, as millions of social security numbers and personal information was leaked to scammers. You can receive a free copy of your credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian every 12 months.
Consider using a free service like Credit Karma to consistently monitor your credit throughout the year.
Seek out help from a financial advisor
Financial planning can be overwhelming even to those who are well-versed in the subject, let alone people who have no experience in the financial sector. A financial advisor will go over next steps and create a plan that will help alleviate some retirement stress.
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