It's funny how time flies. In less than two days, we'll be ushering in a brand-new year. Although we usually start on our to-dos in January, the end of the year is actually a great time to wrap things up and start new tasks. And there are also a number of things that have to be done by the end of the year. Get these things done to begin 2014 anew:
1. Spend Your FSA
Make sure you've spent the money in your Flexible Spending Account, because it will expire by the end of the month. You may be allowed to file an extension if you haven't used up all your FSA dollars, but you need to check your company policy to see if it allows that. Here are some last-minute ideas to use your FSA money.
2. Get Your Free Credit Report
We're all entitled to one free credit report every year on AnnualCreditReport.com. If you haven't gotten yours yet, make sure you get it by the end of the year! It doesn't include your credit score but is basically a copy of your credit history.
3. Visit the Dentist, Doctor, and Optometrist
Get a dental cleaning, health visit, and eye checkup before year-end.
4. Get Tax Ready
Make the upcoming tax season easier on yourself by organizing your bills, receipts, pay stubs, and files before your paychecks suddenly say 2014.
5. Make Your Donations
Donate to your favorite nonprofit before the end of the year so you can claim your contributions as a 2013 tax deduction and help lower your tax bill. This doesn't just include monetary donations but also items you donate to places like Goodwill.
6. Up Your Retirement Contributions
Now is the time to sneak in extra contributions before the year is over. If you haven't contributed enough to your 401(k) to receive the full employer match and you have some extra cash, change your contribution amount before you get your last paychecks of the year. If you have IRA accounts, make sure you've contributed as much as possible — up to the annual maximum, which is $5,500.
7. Return Items
Have packages or items lingering around your home that need to be returned? Do them now to clear your home for the New Year. Perhaps it's an item you bought while shopping on a whim during the holidays that you regret or something that you need to send in to be fixed.
8. File Your Claims
File any claims this year that you have yet to file, or take the time to dispute any rejections of claims.
9. Clean Up a Storm
Get to cleaning for a fresh start to a new year. You definitely don't want your clutter to carry on into 2014. Dust, vacuum, and scrub away so your place will be spick and span. This will put you in a better mind-set when it comes to starting new resolutions, because a clear space can represent a blank slate.
10. Donate, Sell, Use Up, or Trash Clutter
When you're done giving your place a cleaning makeover, take the items that you no longer want or need and sell, donate, use up, or trash them. They may range from items like old clothes to leftovers in your kitchen cupboard. Make way for 2014!
11. Finish 3 Things You Said You'd Get Done This Year but Never Got Around To
Remember some of the promises you made at home, at work, or with friends that you never got around to keeping? Tackle at least three of them by the end of the year.
12. Send Out Handwritten Cards
Christmas and the New Year are a great time to reconnect with people you may have lost touch with. Show them that you're serious about reconnecting by putting in the extra effort and time to handwrite a special message in a holiday card. If you forget to send a Christmas card, you can always send a New Year's card!
13. Free Up Data Space
Delete old emails, documents, and photos you no longer need on your computer, cell phone, and cloud. Free up data space to prep for the coming year. Remember to also clear up your DVR recordings and camera photos.
14. Amp Up Your Job Hunt
It's a good time to apply for new jobs and job hunt, because companies are looking for hires for the New Year. You may think it's slow season for hiring, but companies that are preparing for the upcoming year make their hiring decisions before the end of the month. In any case, even if you're not applying for a new job, it's a good time to update your paper résumé and your LinkedIn profile.
15. Think About Your New Year Goals
We often push off thinking about our resolutions until January, but try to start thinking of your resolutions now, so you don't feel rushed in the start of 2014. Better yet, who says you can't get started on your 2014 resolutions now?