Millions of Americans plan for the next year by setting a New Year’s resolution, which often only lasts a few days or weeks. Instead of creating a resolution that might not last, consider spending an hour or two completing a few financial tasks to set yourself up for success in the new year. A financial checkup is especially crucial when circumstances cause your finances to grow more complicated.
These five simple tasks can help you evaluate your situation, measure your progress and keep moving toward your goals.
1. Perform an End-of-Year Review
A financial review is a great way to examine what worked, what didn’t and what adjustments to make. Even if you didn’t hit all of your goals, it could help find problems before they worsen. Consider questions like:
- Did you stay on budget?
- Did you overspend?
- Were you successful at paying down debt?
- Did you stick to your savings goal?
- Are you putting away the right amount for retirement?
2. Revisit Designated Beneficiaries
The last time you thought about your designated beneficiaries may have been when you first set up your investment accounts, IRA, 401(k) or life insurance policies. Depending on how long ago this was, you may want to review and change your designated beneficiary. Remember, you can designate organizations as a beneficiary of your IRA.
While a will can help specify those you wish to receive assets, naming beneficiaries (and revisiting the list annually) ensures they receive the money smoothly and aren’t tied up in probate court for months or even years.
3. Set Up Your Social Security Benefits
Setting up your Social Security benefits is particularly important for anyone over 60. You can create your online account with the Social Security Administration to help project retirement benefits and estimate how much you will earn over the next several years. Your benefits depend on how much Social Security tax you have paid, so revisiting the account each year is important for finding and correcting mistakes.
4. Plan for Next Year’s Tax Return
The end of the calendar year is also the end of your personal tax year. To prepare for a straightforward tax season, organize year-end bank statements, tax documents and receipts. It’s also a good time to review your most recent tax returns and plan for any potential deductibles, credits or payments. Verifying your tax bracket is an easy way to plan how much you may owe at tax time.
Tax forms are usually sent in January, so take a few minutes to confirm that your address is current with each organization or sign up for electronic delivery if available.
5. Consider Donating to a Charity for the Holidays
Many nonprofits rely on end-of-the-year donations because it is generally when the most significant gifts come in. Making monetary donations in the name of a friend or loved one to a charity is a great holiday gift idea, or it can become a new holiday tradition for your family. An end-of-year donation to a nonprofit organization could be tax-deductible and help lower your taxable income, so be sure to itemize your deductions if it makes sense financially.
While it can be difficult deciding which organizations to donate to, choosing the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation is easy and effective. We can distribute your legacy donation to specific organizations, or you can allow us to decide who would benefit the most. Your community foundation is one tool for making an impact with your charitable giving, whether you want to support organizations locally, nationally or even internationally.
Whether you are a concerned citizen, a community leader, were born and raised in Crawford County, or simply want to make a difference, the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation is here to help provide unbiased guidance. To learn more about how the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation can support your philanthropy efforts, contact Executive Director Christian Maher or donate now.