Your New Year Money Checklist

RealSimple.comRealSimple.comDo these 11 things this month and start 2012 off on the right financial foot.

Rebalance your portfolio. Making sure that your asset allocation is in line with your investment goals is an essential part of managing a portfolio. The beginning of the year is an opportune time to do it, and the process may take only a few minutes.

See More: Take Control of your Finances in an Hour

Track your spending. Whether you use a software program (such as Quicken) or pen and paper, you need to know where your money is going. Break your expenses down into categories--like utilities, insurance, entertainment, and clothing--to identify where you can scale back.

See More: Financial Help for Everyday Money Worries

Set short- and long-term financial goals. Whether you want to be debt-free in 10 years or own a house in five, you're more inclined to save if you have specific goals. So write them down and determine how much money you'll need to save each month to reach them.

See More: 7 Ways to Reach Your Financial Goals

Pay yourself first. Create a regular savings plan. Set up direct deposit from your paycheck into a savings account. You won't miss money you never see.

See More: Your Guide to Saving Money

Enroll in automatic payment programs for bills when you can. You'll avoid costly missed payments, late fees, and negative marks on your credit score.

See More: How to Save $5,000 This Year

Work toward being-and staying-debt-free.
Start by paying down bad debts, such as high-interest credit-card bills and non-tax-deductible debt.

See More: Get-Out-of-Debt Checklist

Boost retirement savings.
If you can't afford to max out your employer-sponsored 401(k) or SEP plan this year, try to contribute enough to receive the full company match. If you don't have a retirement plan at work, fund a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA and arrange for contributions to be made automatically from your checking or savings account.

See More: Do You Need a Financial Guru?

Review insurance policies.
Review all your policies-home owner's, renter's, auto, disability, and life insurance. Are the limits adequate? Should the deductibles be raised? Is there a less expensive policy with similar coverage? Are you taking advantage of all the discounts offered to you by your insurance providers?

See More: Your New Year Money Checklist


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