As we count down the last few days until the end of the year, here’s to hoping everyone gets a little time off. Obviously, you’ll want to spend some time with friends and family, but hopefully there will be a little downtime as well. Sure it’s fun to binge watch a TV series or watch cute animal videos, but there are also some smart financial moves to make during the holiday break.
Set up a System to Track Finances
Whether you use Excel, Google Docs, or a notebook and pen, tracking income and spending is one of the most important financial steps you can take if you want to take control of your money. Spend a little time learning what you spend money on and where there is room for improvement.
You can also set up a free account with Personal Capital and let them do the heavy lifting for you. Not only can Personal Capital track finances, they also offer tools to check investment fees and calculators to make sure you retire with enough money to live on.
Start Planning for Next Year’s Taxes
Sure you have until April 15th to complete tax filing, but now is the perfect time to see how your income compares to last year. If it looks like you’ll have to pay Uncle Sam more tax money, consider making extra contributions to tax advantaged accounts, donating to a non-profit, or buying necessary supplies or equipment for your business.
Update Your Resume and Touch Base With Business Colleagues
Whether you plan to look for a job or not in 2016, it’s still a good idea to keep an up to date resume. Having everything current is much easier than scrambling if you find yourself needing to apply for a new position. Even if you’re self employed, use free time to update your media kit or references so you’ll be ready to pitch yourself when opportunities arise.
The holiday season also offers the chance to make contact with clients or business associates. By wishing them a happy holiday season and letting them know you’re ready for business in the new year, you’ll hopefully keep your name at the top of their list for new work possibilities.
Clean Out Your Inbox/File Cabinet
I don’t enjoy going through old mail, email, and documents, but the end of the year seems like a good time to purge physical and virtual clutter. You’ll be more productive and efficient if you start the new year with a clean desktop and inbox.
Start Saving for Next Year’s Expenses
Whether it’s travel, kid expenses, or even gifts for next Christmas, this is a good time to sit down and figure out how much you hope to spend in non-necessary expenses next year. Not planning means greater temptation to spend emergency and retirement savings or use credit when you get his with a one time expense.
Whatever that total amount is, divide it by 12. That’s how much you need to save monthly. If you can’t afford to do that, you need to either push back the time frame for the purchase or find ways to make more money.
Using your Holiday Break Wisely
A good balance of work, rest, and play is the best way to spend free time. Not all time off during the holiday break should be devoted to money strategies, but if you do happen to have some extra time, it would be worthwhile to use it making smart money moves.
Do you plan to do any work on your finances during holiday time off?