Keeping track of your finances through the year can be difficult and time consuming. Many people fail to fully keep track of everything so they go into the new year without clear insight into their financial wellbeing.
As 2021 draws to a close and we prepare for 2022, take a moment to go through this year-end financial checklist for ensuring your finances are in order before the start of the New Year.
| Review your budget
Is your monthly budget still working well for you? Are you stretching some spending categories or finishing each month in the red? Take some time to review your budget and make any necessary changes.
| Top off your retirement plan
If you have a 401(k), check to see that you are taking full advantage of your employer’s matching contributions. If you haven’t contributed as much as you can, you have until the end of the year (Dec. 31, 2021) to catch up; to a limit of $19,500. If you turned 50 this year, you are eligible for an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500. If you anticipate getting a holiday bonus, consider putting this money toward your debt.
Likewise, if you have an IRA, you have until April 15 to scrape together the maximum contribution of $6,000, with an additional $1,000 if you are age 50 years or older.
| Check your progress on paying down debt
Give your debt an annual checkup by reviewing your outstanding debts from one year ago and holding up the amounts against what you now owe. Have you shed debt from one year ago, or is your debt growing? If you’ve made no progress, or your debt has grown, consider taking bigger steps toward paying it down in 2022, such as consolidating your debt with a personal loan from Cooperative Teachers Credit Union.
| Get a free copy of your annual credit report
The end of the year is a great time for an annual credit checkup. It’s a good idea to review your statements each month to check for fraudulent charges, but you can also request a free copy of your credit report from all three credit agencies once a year. Get your free annual credit reports here, and take a close look at each report. Look for accurate, updated information and any errors, like charges you don’t remember making, or other signs of possible identity theft. If you find any wrongful charges, be sure to dispute them immediately.
| Review your investments and asset allocation
Take some time at year’s end to rebalance your portfolio and to see if your asset allocation is still serving you well. You may need to make some changes to your mix of stocks, bonds, cash and other investments to better reflect the current state of the market.
| Review your beneficiaries
Has your family situation changed in the past year? If it has, be sure to switch the beneficiaries on your accounts and life insurance policies to accommodate these changes.
| Complete open enrollment and select your employer benefits
The end of the year coincides with open enrollment for health insurance policies. This is your chance to select the employer benefits you want for the coming year. If you miss this window, you will be stuck with the benefits you chose last year or with no benefits at all.
| Review your tax withholdings
It’s a good idea to review your W-4 annually and see if the amount of tax being withheld from each paycheck needs to be adjusted. If you’re not a numbers person, ask your accountant for help. Changing up the numbers just a bit can make a significant difference in your tax bill at the end of the year. Or, if you usually get a large refund, adjusting the amount withheld can mean enjoying a larger paycheck throughout the year instead of giving the government an interest-free loan to be paid back in one lump sum at year’s end.
The doors are closing on 2021 and it’s time to give your finances a full checkup. Use this checklist to make sure your money matters are in order before the start of 2022.
Your Turn: What’s on your financial checklist for the end of the year? Tell us about it in the comments.