December marks the end of the calendar year, of course, but it’s also a time when many people are taking stock of the past 12 months and preparing for a fruitful year ahead. That’s why this month presents an excellent opportunity to evaluate your financial standing, tie up loose ends, and set the stage for a prosperous new year. As you prepare to bid farewell to the current year and welcome the next, a comprehensive financial checklist can help you organize your finances and make a strong start in January. Below, you’ll find a list of essential financial tasks to consider as part of your December financial checklist.
December Financial Checklist Step 1. Review Your Financial Goals
The year’s end is the perfect time to take a moment to revisit the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year. Evaluate your progress and assess whether you’ve achieved your objectives or need to adjust them for the following year. Remember, even small progress is still progress! Celebrate your wins and use them as motivation to tackle your outstanding goals in the coming year.
December Financial Checklist Step 2. Assess Your Budget
The holiday season may be a time when you avoid looking too closely at your finances! Still, it’s important to analyze your spending throughout the full year to identify any areas where you exceeded or fell short of your budget. Use this information to fine-tune your budget for the upcoming year, aligning it with your financial goals. If you’ve had trouble sticking to a budget in the past, try one of these apps to help you stay on track.
December Financial Checklist Step 3. Maximize Retirement Contributions
It’s ideal to contribute to your retirement funds regularly throughout the year. However, if you haven’t already, be sure to max-out your contributions to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, or other employer-sponsored plans. Take advantage of catch-up contributions if you’re eligible to do so.
December Financial Checklist Step 4. Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio
While it may be tempting to “set and forget” your investment portfolio and simply hope for the best, the truth is that it needs some attention throughout the year. Now is the time to review and rebalance your portfolio to align it with your risk tolerance, financial goals, and market conditions. Ensure that it is diversified and structured to meet your objectives for the new year. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this on your own, a financial advisor offering investment management services can help.
December Financial Checklist Step 5. Perform Tax-Loss Harvesting
Tax-loss harvesting sounds complex, but it simply means selling investments that have experienced losses to offset capital gains and potentially reduce your tax liability for the current year. This is another element of your year-end checklist that a financial advisor can be helpful with, especially since you must pay attention to the wash-sale rule and its implications on repurchasing securities.
December Financial Checklist Step 6. Organize Financial Records
Gather and organize all financial records, including receipts, tax documents, and investment statements. Having these documents in order will streamline the tax filing process a few months from now and ensure you have the necessary information for year-end financial evaluations, too.
December Financial Checklist Step 7. Review Insurance Policies
It’s smart to evaluate your insurance coverage, including health, life, auto, and home insurance annually. This helps you to ensure your coverage is adequate and update it if needed to reflect any changes in your circumstances. It’s also a good time to price-check and see if you can find cost savings by switching companies.
December Financial Checklist Step 8. Evaluate Debt and Interest Rates
Review your outstanding debts, including credit card balances, loans, and mortgages. If you’re disappointed to be going into the new year with debts remaining, remember to explore options to refinance or consolidate debts to lower interest rates and save on repayments going forward.
December Financial Checklist Step 9. Update Beneficiaries and Estate Plans
December is the perfect time to conduct an annual review and update your beneficiaries on retirement accounts, insurance policies, and other relevant documents. Additionally, revisit your estate plan to ensure it aligns with your current wishes and circumstances, especially if you’ve experienced any major life transitions over the past year.
December Financial Checklist Step 10. Plan for Charitable Contributions
If the season of giving is meaningful to you and you plan to make year-end charitable donations, ensure you contribute to eligible 501(c)3 organizations. Keep records of your donations for tax purposes, too.
Complete Your Checklist to Begin the New Year with Financial Confidence
December is a pivotal month for organizing and preparing your finances for a successful transition into the new year. By following the above December financial checklist and diligently attending to these tasks, you can set the foundation for a financially secure and prosperous year ahead. Remember, proper planning and organization now can lead to a smoother financial journey in the future.
Would you like professional guidance on any of the checklist items mentioned above? At Clarity Financial Solutions, we offer a free consultation so that you can ask questions and learn whether our services are a match for your needs. Contact us today to get on our calendar, and here’s to a financially fruitful year-end and an even more prosperous new year!