4 Ways to End 2016 Financially Strong
By Brandon Schleter
We all know holidays are busy, and the last thing you want to think about is money stuff. I get it. I'd much rather be shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters and eating way too many holiday treats. But trust me - taking care of these four things today will make the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 much less stressful.
1. Review your 2016 budgeting and savings goals, and be brutally honest with yourself about how you did. If you blew your budget on a 72-inch TV, ask yourself why you made that decision and create a plan to stop something similar from happening in 2017. If your savings have barely inched up since last December, figure out where that money went instead, and make a plan to redirect it into savings in the next 12 months. Don't beat yourself up, but don't make excuses either.
2. Find bills and payments to automate. Even your electric and gas bills can be set to autodraft, taking one more thing off your financial plate. Automating also decreases the likelihood of late payments, and gets around that pesky human tendency to procrastinate - especially during the Christmas shopping season when everyone is trying to get you to part with your money. Do be sure to check that those payments are actually autodrafted correctly, especially in the first few months.
3. Make gifts to charity. Many organizations are in need this time of year, whether that's donations of warm clothes and food or volunteering your time. Make your dropoffs, get your receipts and feel good about your altruistic actions. You'll also be able to take advantage of the tax deductions.
4. Which brings me to my last point: I know you're busy, but try to find an hour in the next few weeks to start gathering your tax documents. You'll be your accountant's best friend if you get things in early, and you'll be less likely to forget about deductions and donations if you're planning ahead and not waiting until the last minute. Refunds will also be delayed a little this year due to increased crackdowns on tax fraud, so getting your return in early will be especially beneficial this year.
Of course, I also hope you take the time to relax and truly enjoy this time of year. Whether you're spending the Christmas season with family or making your own traditions and memories, make the most of it. And as always, call us with any questions you may have about end-of-year money to-dos or 2017 preparations.