Sense & Centsibility Blog

A Year-End Financial Checklist: Six Things to Do Before 2018

Many people make New Year's financial resolutions or review their finances to start off the new year. However, it is a great idea to review your finances before 2017 ends. Here is a year-end financial checklist to help you kick-start your finances in 2018.

Review what you've spentEnd of year

Look over where you spent your money. Some financial institutions even have reports you can pull to see how you spent your money by category. Regardless how you do it, make sure you see where your money went in 2017. Taking a look at patterns can help you decide how to spend money next year. Did you set aside money in emergency savings? Did you add money to retirement? If not, it's time to start planning for emergencies and your future.

Use up FSA

If you participate in a health or child care flexible spending account, double check the balance on that account. If you don't use it, you'll typically lose it. While there may be a grace period to submit an expense for reimbursement, the actual expense needs to have been incurred by the end of December. (Double check your plan's terms to be sure.)

Assess savings goals

Are you on pace to achieve your savings goals? Determine how much you've saved and if you still need to save more. For instance, Christmas is coming up quickly; start saving now to avoid accruing debt. Whatever you choose to do, start saving asap. To make it easy, set up automatic deposits into a savings account.

If you have an employer match for your retirement account, start taking full advantage of that. Think of other ways to save for retirement as well; for instance, put a portion or all of your tax refund into retirement savings. For other ideas, check out Three Ways to Save for Retirement." and Check your credit

Pull your credit report for free from all 3 credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) from Verify that there are no errors and work on any past due or collection debt to improve your credit. Also, be sure you're making on-time payments as that is the best way to improve and maintain good credit.

Review your beneficiaries

A lot of change can happen in a year: births, marriage, divorce, death, adoption, etc. Ensure that you have the appropriate person/people listed as beneficiaries on your insurance, retirement accounts, and even checking/savings. Also, if you don't have a will yet, that might be a good goal for 2018.

Think about 2018

Even though the new year is still a few months away, 2018 will be here before you know it. So after reviewing your spending and saving progress in 2017 so far, determine what you want 2018 to look like. Then choose a financial goal. Think about things like saving more for emergencies, beginning retirement savings, balancing your budget, saving for a trip, paying off debt, etc. Thinking ahead will better prepare you to get started on your goal for next year. And you can always start early if you're ready!

If credit card debt is holding you back from achieving savings goals, call LSS at 888.577.2227 for your free session. Or GET STARTED ONLINE at your convenience. Our financial counselors will help you create a realistic budget and plan of action so you can conquer your debt faster and achieve your goals.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.