One of the main pillars of adulthood is learning how to stay on top of your finances. But it can be easy for money management to slip through the cracks during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you’re looking to get things in order but are feeling a bit unsure how to go about it, here are four financial steps to take before the new year.
REVIEW YOUR SPENDING
Wrapping up 2020 with a deep dive into your budget can be invaluable in setting yourself up for success in 2021. But with many people’s spending thrown out of whack this year, you may need to reset yours. Start by seeing if there are any tweaks to be made. Are you still using that workout streaming package you bought last March? Have you been spending less on entertainment but more on groceries? Remember that having a budget doesn’t mean depriving yourself, but spending more intentionally.
If you struggled a bit with your budget this year, that’s OK too — consider it an area of improvement for next year. If, for example, you didn’t realize how much you spent on Amazon until you saw your credit card bill, think about how you can better track your expenses. Whether you use a budgeting app or a simple spreadsheet, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it as long as it’s something you’ll stick with.
BOOST YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS
Between more meals at home and cancelled concerts and trips, you may have found you saved more this year. If that’s the case, consider putting that extra money to good use by investing in your future self. While you might feel overwhelmed thinking so far into the future, remember that even a small amount of savings will grow over time, thanks to compound interest.
With the holidays just around the corner, you probably have some well-deserved time off from work coming your way. But with fewer places to go and not much to do, take advantage of the slowed-down pace by decluttering the financial paperwork you’ve accumulated. Shred anything you no longer need — think credit card and bank statements from two years ago — and file away what you’ll want to reference down the line, like your tax documents. If you want to take things a step further, sign up for paperless documents to cut down on clutter.
MAKE A TAX PLAN
While you might be thinking, “I don’t even have my W-2 form yet,” having a plan for how and when you’re going to file your taxes can give you greater peace of mind heading into 2021. If you plan to go the DIY route, research the various websites and software options so you’re ready to go when your forms arrive in late January. If you prefer to work with a tax pro, look into scheduling an appointment now. Why? You’ll not only have your choice of time slot, but you’ll also avoid the last-minute rush come Tax Day.