While it may be nearly February it's never too late in the year to start New Year's financial resolutions. If you're like the majority of people you have a list a mile long of things to do, including some financial upkeep that you most likely put off. Start right with some easy steps to keep your finances organized.
- Get your free credit report and set up reminders (like on your phone or a google calendar) to stagger them throughout the year. The ONLY place to get an actual free credit report with no strings attached is annualcreditreport.com all those other sites are trying to get you to sign up for credit monitoring which isn't usually worth it unless you are planning on purchasing a house soon.
- Set aside time to go over your money goals by yourself or with your spouse. It's important to make measurable goals for your year. Whether it's waning to cut back spending so you can save more, or finding a house in your budget, you need to have a plan of action.
- Go over your budget. With the new year come new expenses, especially as many employers increased rates for health insurance premiums. Adjust your budget as needed and make sure to include savings first, as well as a little bit of fun money for both you and your partner or spouse if you have one.
- Look at the big picture for 2011. Make a list of all the big expected purchases. That new dishwasher you know you want to buy this year, or the trip you are taking for summer vacation. Write it all out, and add it up. That way it won't be so hard to swallow when the expense does hit. Even better, divide that number by 12 (or 26) and start paying that money into a savings account now
- Take care of any filing from 2010. I know it's no fun, but it'll help make taxes easier once all the forms start rolling in at the end of the month.
- Take care of any loose ends. Do you need to switch to a new bank, or start contributing to a 529? Get the ball rolling now, so another year doesn't pass by without saving as much as you want to, or paying ridiculous fees on your money.
- Talk money with your kids. No matter what age they are kids can start learning about money now. Set aside time once a week to give a weekly allowance (even if it's just a few quarters), and talk about their upcoming expenses. For instance, you may have a budget for after school activities, so allowing them to pick between two activities and discussing their cost can be a great tool for elementary age kids. From kids as young as 1 you can make money lessons out of grocery store trips. Have them help you with coupons, look at the cost differences between products and more.
What's on your financial to do list for 2011?Kelly Whalen is a mom of 4, and personal finance blogger who covers money, family, and the intersection of both on her blog The Centsible Life.