So, 2020 didn’t go exactly as planned. And as we quickly approach the moment when we can say “good riddance” to the year, this is a good time to get things in order and go after your money goals. In between putting the turkey in the oven and scoping out the best online deals, here are five ways to improve your finances in November.

    Last month we encouraged you to start thinking about your holiday shopping. This month it’s time to figure out what exactly you need to purchase, as many big-name stores including Target, Walmart and Best Buy are planning online Black Friday deals throughout November. As you browse the sales, you might see something known as “buy now, pay later” — a popular financing method that’s made a resurgence in the e-commerce space. If you’re interested in using this to spread out the costs of your gifts, be sure to read the fine print and know the pros and cons (it is a loan after all). And if you have your eye on any home gadgets, check out our recommendations for making your home a bit smarter.

    Doesn’t the end of the year always seem to fly by? Even though things are probably less hectic this go around, you’ll still want to make time for some end-of-year financial tasks, which are even more important this year when so much has changed. Once you’ve reviewed your budget and checked in with your advisor, read up on some tips for how to get the most out of your tax refund (and avoid paying more than you have to when tax season rolls around).

    We’re all ready for a fresh start in 2021, and while we’re not quite there yet, you can get started now by planning for what’s on the horizon. Start by reviewing some financial wellness best practices to ensure you're prepared for whatever next year may bring. And seeing as it’s the holidays, a time when family is top of mind, start prepping your kids for their own future by teaching them the ins and outs of financial independence.

    We’ve been talking a lot about family and gift-giving this month. While it might not be a present that’s wrapped and tied with a bow, making sure your loved ones are taken care of is one of the greatest gifts you can give. To ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, here’s a primer on how to include conditional gifts in a trust.

    As we wind down a year that’s been anything but normal, now is also a good time for reflection. Because as great as it is to set goals, it’s just as important to review your progress along the way. So in the spirit of giving, let your partner in on the fun with a financial check-in. Maybe you want to acknowledge the fact that you worked together to cut back on your family’s discretionary spending this year, or that you both increased your retirement contributions. Even if your relationship is in the early stages, celebrating both individual and shared wins can strengthen your relationship as you head into the end of the year.

    With the costs of college creeping up every year, it’s likely welcome news that November is National Scholarship Month. Whether you’re a student or a parent of one, researching and applying for both local and national scholarships can help offset those ever-rising costs. And if you’re planning on taking out student loans, be sure to read these must-know misconceptions before you start filling out the FAFSA, which opened for the 2021-2022 school year as of October 1.

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