4 Things to Do for Your Money Before the New Year

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

Looking ahead

photo credit: Nebraska Helen

I may have heard a collective groan from some of you when you read the headline for this post.  Things to do before the new year? Christina, do you have any idea how busy I am this time of year? Are you crazy?

Yes, I do understand how busy this time of year is.  And yes, I may be a little crazy.  But I hope you’ll hear me out on this list of things to do for your money before the end of the year.

If you do these simple things, you’ll be on your way to good financial health in the new year.

Set some financial goals.

Don’t wait until the credit card bills start rolling in! Start setting some specific, measurable, and  realistic goals for the new year.  Goals could include paying down debt, earning more income, or saving for retirement.  Write them down (and watch your language!) and make a note on your calendar a few months from now to review your progress.

Get a calendar or planner.

I know that the best deals on calendars come after January.  But I don’t want you to wait to get one.  If you wait for a great sale on a calendar, you will start the new  year off with the crummy habits you’re trying to shake.  You can improve how you manage your money by using a calendar. Get a calendar or planner that works for you and your family, and start mapping out the new year.  When you know your schedule, and when you know when events are coming, you can properly plan for the expense. A calendar can help you budget for maintenance tasks. It can remind you to take care of your health (which saves you money).

Get ready for tax season.

I will admit that this is not a very fun task.  But come April 15, you’ll be glad you did it.  Start gathering up receipts and paperwork in one box or envelope for tax prepapation time.  Donate to charitable organizations before the end of the year so you can claim the tax benefits.  Max out your retirement contributions to reduce your tax bill.  Shred old papers and receipts you don’t need. We don’t know what the fiscal cliff will bring just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be organized.

Find healthy ways to reduce stress.

I honestly can’t think of anything that has a bigger impact on your finances than stress.   When we’re stressed out we tend to do a lot of unhealthy things – eat too much, drink too much, or spend too much.  Too much of those things can have a negative impact on your budget.  Start with frugal ways to reduce holiday stress and then come up with ways you can build a little bit of healthy relaxation into every day of the week.  And go for a walk – it will help!

Carve out just a few minutes every day to work on these tasks and you’ll be well on your way to a happy and financially healthy new year.

What are some things you plan to do to get your money ready for the new year?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas. She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 7-year-old and twin 5-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.