End of Year Financial Checklist: Preparing for a Prosperous New Year
As November rolls in and the year draws to a close, it's time to pause and reflect on the past months. Remember to make time for an end-of-year financial check-up. It is an important task that can help you have a successful new year.
Whether you're a seasoned investor or just beginning to take control of your finances, this financial checklist will help you navigate the essential steps to secure your financial well-being and prepare for the year ahead.
1. Review Your Budget
Begin your end-of-year financial checklist by reviewing your budget. Take a close look at your income and expenses over the past year. Are you meeting your financial goals? Have there been any unexpected changes in your financial situation due to hurricanes or other factors? Are there areas where you can adjust your spending or allocate resources more effectively? If this seems overwhelming, consider the 50/30/20 budgeting strategy for a straightforward way to see where your money goes. Now is a good time to modify your budget to ensure you stay on track in the coming year.
2. Maximize Retirement Contributions
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement and make sure you’ll have enough funds to live comfortably. If you have a retirement savings plan, the end of the year is the perfect time to check your current contribution levels and consider increasing them to maximize your annual contributions. For 2023, the maximum annual contribution for a 401(k) plan is $19,500, or $26,000 if you're age 50 or older. Maximizing your contributions can help you secure a comfortable retirement.
3. Evaluate Your Investment Portfolio
Review your investment portfolio to ensure it still aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance. Consider rebalancing your investments if necessary to maintain your desired asset allocation. Diversification remains crucial to managing risk and safeguarding your financial future.
4. Tax Planning with an Eye on Savings
As the end of the year approaches, consider tax planning* strategies that can help you save. Explore opportunities to reduce your tax liability while taking advantage of your state’s tax policies, such as:
Harvesting capital losses to offset capital gains.
Maximizing contributions to tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs and HSAs.
Making charitable contributions to eligible organizations.
Review your withholding to avoid underpayment penalties.
5. Ensure Your Emergency Savings Are Ready for Any Weather
Life can bring unexpected twists, and having an emergency savings fund is essential to weather financial storms. Evaluate the status of your emergency savings and consider increasing it if you've experienced significant life changes or if your fund is less than the recommended three to six months of living expenses. Knowing you have financial security can provide peace of mind regardless of the circumstances.
End-of-year is an excellent time to review or update your estate plan to ensure that your will, trusts and other legal documents accurately reflect your intentions. Review your financial accounts to ensure they include a designated beneficiary, and consider establishing powers of attorney and healthcare directives to protect your loved ones and your financial legacy.
8. Debt Management for a Stress-Free Financial Future
Take stock of your outstanding debts while visualizing a stress-free financial future. This includes credit card balances, loans and mortgages. Create a plan to pay down high-interest debts and reduce your overall debt load. Paying off debt not only improves your financial health but also frees up resources for future savings and investments.
9. Education Planning with Your Goals in Mind
If you have children or plan to continue your education, consider your education savings goals. Review your 529 plan contributions and explore other options for education funding, such as scholarships and grants. It's never too early to start planning for educational expenses and working toward your goals.
10. Set Financial Goals and Celebrate Your Achievements
As you wrap up your end-of-year financial checklist, don't forget to set new financial goals for the upcoming year. Whether saving for a family vacation, buying a new home or building an emergency fund, having clear goals will help you stay motivated and on track throughout the year. Celebrate your achievements and remember that each step brings you closer to your financial dreams.
The end of the year is a time for reflection and planning, and your financial well-being should be an integral part of that process. By following our comprehensive end-of-year financial checklist, you'll be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the new year. Remember, taking control of your finances is an ongoing journey, and the steps you take now can have a profound impact on your financial future. Seacoast Bank is here to help you turn your financial dreams into reality. Get started today by meeting with your local banker.
*This does not constitute tax advice; we encourage you to consult a licensed tax professional.