The countdown is over and the bubbly’s been popped: 2019 is here. You may still be in the holiday mindset, but it’s time to start looking ahead to everything you want to tackle over the next 12 months.
Let’s make 2019 a year to get excited about — including feeling great about your financial future. Here are five things to do now so you can improve your finances.
1. REVIEW YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
A new year calls for resolutions, right? And whether you’ll be working toward brand-new goals this year or continuing to make progress on your existing ones, this is a great time to review what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months and develop a plan of action to make it a reality. No matter what your financial goals are, from starting your own business to paying off debt to increasing your kids’ 529 savings, a financial professional can help make the process easier. So if you haven’t already, schedule time with a pro to review your goals and align your strategy.
2. UPDATE YOUR BUDGET
As your goals change, your budget should also change to support them. Maybe you have more disposable income this year and want to put it toward a smart investing strategy. Or, maybe you have a wedding or vacation to plan for. Whatever your goals are, updating a budget will help ensure you’re accounting for both your essential expenses (like your mortgage payment) and the fun stuff. If you’re creating your budget for the first time, or just need a refresher, these six steps will help make budgeting a breeze. A financial professional can also help you create a budget that supports all of your financial goals.
3. INCREASE RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS
The IRS recently announced that contribution limits for several retirement savings accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans and Thrift Savings Plans would be raised starting in 2019. If maxing out your retirement contributions is part of your financial plan, you may need to make adjustments to capitalize on this change. While you’re at it, you may want to review your overall retirement savings plan to make sure your money will last for decades in retirement. And if you’re not sure whether a Roth or Traditional retirement account (or both) is right for you, this primer helps explain the benefits of both.
4. FILE QUARTERLY TAXES
If you’re a freelancer or business owner, your estimated taxes for the last quarter of 2018 are due by January 15, so don’t delay in filing. And even if you don't have a quarterly tax deadline to consider, this is also a good time to start prepping for the regular tax season. The first day to file is typically in late January, and filing early has a host of benefits from preventing tax fraud to getting your refund that much sooner (and putting it toward your financial goals). Plus, if you still haven’t figured out the tax law changes, meeting with a professional early can help ensure you’re setting yourself up to owe as little as possible next year.
5. PREPARE FOR CHANGE
Change may be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we’re always prepared for it. If you had a big life change take place last year, or are expecting one in the next 12 months, make sure your financial plan is evolving with your needs. Preparing to welcome a new addition to your family? Make sure your estate plan is up to date, and learn why this dad bought life insurance on his children. And if your family recently lost someone, consider these tips on how to handle an inheritance the right way. It can feel overwhelming, but a financial professional can help you handle your life’s changes, both big and small.