Every season, we’ll bring you the top to-dos to get your financial life in order. Winter is closing in, but that doesn’t mean you can hibernate; through the snow and the carols, your finances need to stay warm. Here are the key items on your winter to-do list.
Reassess Your Budget.
Ideal Deadline: December 1
Our lives aren’t the same as they were six months ago, so our budgets shouldn’t be, either. Go to the LV Budgeting Tool to make sure you’re sticking to your current budget, or create a new one if your lifestyle has changed.
Check Your Credit Score.
Ideal Deadline: December 1
We recommend you do this once every season, because keeping up with your credit score is a good way to protect your financial life. It’s easy—just go to Credit Karma to do it for free.
Look Closely At Your Bills.
Deadline: December 14
Read through your bills to understand what you’re spending on your cell phone, utilities, and cable. To find out if there’s anywhere else you can cut back, check out LearnVest’s Cut Your Costs Bootcamp.
What else should you do?
Max Out Your Retirement Account.
Deadline: December 22
Make sure you get the most out of your 401(k) contributions for the year by contributing the maximum you can—if your employer matches your contributions, this is free money. If you’re playing catch up with your retirement savings, know that you can add to your 2010 IRA contribution up until April 15, 2011. Nonetheless, we want you to contribute now so that you can focus on your 2011 contribution in 2011. Do this by our deadline of the 22nd, before you get distracted by the winter holidays.
Rebalance Your Portfolio.
Deadline: December 29
As things change and your investing timeline begins to look a little different, make sure that your portfolio still suits your present needs. Whether or not you change the proportions of the investments you want, you should rebalance the whole thing before the new year, since gains and losses will naturally disrupt the ratios you carefully planned last year.
Compare Your Interest Rates.
Deadline: January 1
Interest rates fluctuate, so make sure you’re getting the best value out there by comparing your savings account to the competition. Same goes for your credit card—if the APR has gone up, call to see if it can be lowered.
Organize Your Tax Forms.
Deadline: January 17
Make yourself a nice cup of coffee, and finally sit down with your tax documents. Find a safe place to keep all tax forms that are mailed to you (W-2s, 1099s, and anything else that shows up). While you’re at it, organize any receipts or other paperwork you’ll need when you file your taxes.
Click here to download your Winter To-Do List!
For more smart tips from Learnvest, check out:
What Would You Endure For Cheap Plane Tickets?
Bad Financial Habits to Drop By 30
The 3 Ps: Three Influences On Your Money Decisions