Everyone wants to start the new year off on the right foot, and there’s no better way to do that than to prepare your finances with a 2017 financial planning calendar. By setting up 12 simple tasks throughout the year, you can check them off each month and know that you’re helping secure your financial future as you go.
After your New Year’s celebrations die down, set yourself up for success. Analyze your debt-to-income ratio and look at areas where you can cut down in order to maximize your savings. If you can spend less on both bills and personal expenditures, you can put more cash towards your savings.
Establish your budget and share it with anyone else in your family who will need to know. For example, if your kids are involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, explain the cost of each and what is feasible within your new budget.
With your budget in place, February is the 2017 financial planning calendar month to start making your money work for you. Check your credit report and look at your debt. Pay down the debt with the highest interest rate first, like credit cards, and then move on to other like loans.
You’ll also want to take this opportunity to review your credit report to spot any signs of fraud that occurred during the holidays. If you see anything suspicious, call your creditors and look into it.
As you continue to get your finances in better shape, it may be a good time to begin working with a financial planner. This professional can help you decide what the best retirement vehicles are for your individual situation. Depending on your job, you may want a 401(k), IRA or Roth IRA.
If you’ve still got kids at home who are planning to attend college, consider opening a 529 account so that you can save and grow your money at the same time.
April is here and tax season is upon you. While you can certainly file your taxes before the April deadline, many people wait until the last minute. There’s a good reason why they may do that, however. You can contribute to and max out your IRA account and other tax-exempt investment accounts right up to the deadline with pre-tax earnings, which will not go towards your overall earnings for the year.
Don’t forget to go paperless. As you select options like direct deposit, go a step further and sign up for the paperless option on your financial statements as well. You’ll get your info in a timelier manner and, if offered by your institution, be able to view your accounts at-a-glance making it easier to keep track of your 2017 financial planning calendar.
Summer vacation will be here before you know it, so start planning your vacation now. Whether you’re taking a trip with your friends or if your family is hitting the road, you’ll want to have fun with your 2017 financial planning calendar budget in mind.
Planning ahead allows you time to compare prices and decide what will be best for your situation. Maybe an all-inclusive trip to Mexico is what you’re looking for, or a road trip to see national landmarks. Either way, check in with companies whom you do business with to see if they offer any discounts. For example, AAA offers discounted cruises and tours for their members throughout North America.
June: Halfway Through the 2017 Financial Planning Calendar
You’ve made it halfway through 2017, so take stock of your finances. Are you still sticking to the budget you set up for yourself at the beginning of the year? If not, how can you get back on track or tweak it and still achieve your goals?
If you’ve come into more money than you expected, where is the smartest place for you to invest it? This is usually the month when you’ll receive mid-year reports about how your investments are doing, so you should easily be able to look at where you can improve your portfolio.
Whether you chose to get away on a vacation or take a staycation, use some of this downtime to become more educated about finances. The more you know about your finances, the more control you can take over them.
Start reading the Wall Street Journal daily, or sign up for an online class to learn more about the economy. Sites like Lynda.com and edx.org offer many free classes, some of which are taught through Ivy League colleges. Access to these platforms may also be offered at no cost to you through your company or simply by using your library card.
As students make their way back to school, you’ll likely need to shop for school supplies. If your child is K-12, then make sure you take another look at your budget for your 2017 financial planning calendar and stick to it. If supplies are going to cost more than you anticipated, then look at where you can make room to shift expenses without dipping into your savings.
If your child is in college and you have a 529 account, this would be a good time to take your distributions for tuition and other qualified expenses, like computers. Keep in mind that you’re heading into winter, so if you want to make any home improvements, now is the time to do it before it gets too cold.
It’s never too early to be smart about your Christmas shopping. Instead of waiting for the Black Friday sales in November, look around during Labor Day and see what you find. It’ll be a great way to get a good deal, have your shopping checked off your list and alleviate some financial stress in December.
The holidays will be here before you know it, so start planning any holiday travel now. The longer you wait to buy things like airline tickets and hotels, the more it will potentially cost. This will also help lock in your plans so that you’re not scrambling when the holidays get here.
You’ll also want to meet with your financial planner to see what investment options you can take advantage of over the next several weeks.
November is typically when open enrollment takes place for employees. Take a look at your options, and then decide what will be most beneficial to you. Many people know about the standard HMO and PPO plans, but some businesses offer other options too, like a Health Savings Account.
These accounts have higher deductibles, but if you’re rarely sick, you can make tax-deductible contributions to them monthly. Whatever isn’t used in your account can be rolled over to the following year.
If you’re one of the lucky employees who get holiday bonuses, instead of purchasing something like a computer, consider investing the money. This could go toward maxing out a Roth IRA or even buying stock in a company.
This is also a good opportunity to make your tax-deductible charitable contributions. If you aren’t sure what you want to donate to, you can search for organizations on Charity Navigator to find one that fits with your ideals. Take a look back at your 2017 financial planning calendar and get ready for next year!