We’re well into the fourth quarter of the year. For many of us, our minds are turning to thoughts of holiday meals, gift-giving, and time with friends and family. However, as we approach the new year, it’s crucial that you, as an investor, ensure that your financial house is in order.
Even if you’re not a real estate investor or currently investing in anything, this year-end financial checklist can benefit your financial future more than you realize. Avoid the frantic rush get everything in order in the last two weeks of the year. Instead, start now — then you can enjoy the holidays and the satisfaction of personal financial health.
Optimize Your Financial Health with a Year-End Checklist
Revisit Your Portfolio
Now is the perfect time to check in on your investments. With the help of a portfolio adviser, go over your standing investments one by one. For turnkey real estate investors, consult your turnkey adviser. You’re looking not only for year-over-year performance but reevaluating the role of each investment within your portfolio. Certain properties may no longer serve a clear purpose. Perhaps you have an over-saturation of investments in one market. Begin planning for a 1031 Exchange or other property acquisitions to diversify your portfolio.
Make plans for the next year (or next several) and ensure that the plan you’ve already made is still serving you well where you are now.
Grade Your Family
No family is financially perfect. Even when we make budgets, it’s all-too-easy to fudge and wiggle in ways that hurt our bank balance. Sit down with your spouse or partner and evaluate your budget performance over the past year. Identify weaknesses and areas where you are prone to overspend and splurge.
Set financial goals for the next year and make a game plan for tackling your problem areas.
Tackle Outstanding Debts
We know what you’re thinking — worry about paying down debt? During the holidays? That sounds like crazy talk! However, there’s no better time than now to deal with debts. The holiday season is where we are most prone to pull out that credit card. Instead of adding to your debt burden, focus on paying off the balance that you have. A credit card balance hurts not only your bottom line but your ability to save.
Keep that credit score looking good and take care of your loose ends.
Give Your Emergency Fund a Boost
Every family needs an emergency savings fund. This is money set aside to deal with the unexpected — medical problems, vehicle repairs, and other expenses that can catch us off guard. An emergency fund is vital for financial health as it prevents you from having to strain your checking account balance or dip into your savings to cover costs.
Review Your Insurance Policies
At the end of the year, it’s time to look at your current insurance policies. Life, medical, homeowner’s/renter’s, and more. Pay attention to your mail — you may get a notification of changing rates. Evaluate your coverage and determine if your plan needs any adjustments based on the past year. Shop around for a new provider if necessary.
Plan for Milestones
As we age, more and more life milestones come our way. Kids go to college and have children, parents age. Our health changes as do our needs. Looking ahead, do you need to save to take care of an aging or ailing parent? Do you need to set up a “visit the kids” or “visit the grandkids” fund? What about plans for paying for college? Make your game plan for the upcoming year. New priorities will no doubt come into focus and demand your financial attention.
Look to Tax Season
The last thing we want to do is wait until the last minute to tackle our taxes. This is especially true of real estate investors and anyone who has their fingers in many proverbial pies. Before the end of the year, get your last few tax breaks in. Make charitable donations, buy a hybrid of electric car for a tax credit, write off any losses, and get your documents together. Your CPA will thank you if you already have a good handle on everything needed to file your taxes — and get the best return possible.
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