How to Evaluate Your Financial Year and Plan for 2017

The end of the year can be stressful. With travel, gifts, and the inevitable flu bug that always seems to find you, it may feel like you’re drowning come December. Ensure you sail through the new year by having a well-thought-out savings and budgeting plan in place well beforehand. Here’s how.
Illustration of financial planning

Decide on a percentage

Now is the perfect time to sit down and evaluate how much of your income is going toward savings, retirement, student loans, etc. Once you’ve crunched the numbers, decide on a new percentage for 2017.

For example, if you’re currently putting 5% of your monthly income toward retirement, consider increasing it to 7% or 10%. Or, if you’re able to save $200 a month now, try to rearrange your finances to save $250 or $300. Start planning now and you’ll be happy when you start reallocating your money in 2017.

Plan for retirement wisely

If you have a good chunk of change in the bank, you may want to consider an IRA, or individual retirement account, in 2017. IRAs can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, including tax-exempt contributions and the high-yielding interest rate on IRAs that allows you to invest.

Trim the fat

Now is the perfect time to sit down and take a good, hard look at where your money is going each month. Without a doubt, there are some frivolous expenditures that can be done away with in the new year. Perhaps you notice that you’re spending far too much money online shopping, or subscribing to monthly magazines that you don’t even read. You might also have a credit card with a balance and very high interest rate that is costing you money each month. Focus on paying off anything that charges you interest and cut out the needless spending. Then, repurpose that money and put it toward retirement, savings, and paying down larger debts such as your mortgage.

Don’t overspend during the holidays

Overspending is easy to do in our consumer culture. Sales, online shopping, and credit cards make purchasing instantaneous and simple, but keep in mind that if you overspend now you’ll pay for it in the new year. To curb holiday spending, draw up a budget for gifts and travel. Don’t exceed it for any reason. If you find that you’re getting close to your budget maximum, then try some cost-effective DIY gifts or consider only attending one gathering instead of many.

Tighten things up now

Many people spend like crazy just before the holidays and then find that they’re stressed about finances in January and February. To avoid a big credit card bill or depleting your savings, start tightening up your budget this fall. How to tighten things up when presents must be purchased and travel plans arranged, you might ask? Activities such as eating out, going to the movies, and short weekend getaways add up. Consider suspending these activities until after the holidays and opt for having family “staycations” on the weekends. Cook a homemade meal, binge-watch a new show, and just generally try to recreate at home for the next few months. You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have without spending a dime.

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