Like it or not, the last quarter of the year is upon us. I sound like my parents when I say that the older you get, the faster time goes, but it’s true. Even though we’re in the final stretch, there is still time to end 2015 without regrets. Here are possible goals to hit before the end of the year.
Contribute to a Health Savings Account
If you are eligible for a health savings account, make sure to get it established and funded before the end of the year. The triple tax savings on contributions, growth, and withdrawals is too good to pass up. If used for approved medical spending, HSA contributions might be the only money never subject to income taxes.
Make Sure You’ve Taken Advantage of any 401(k) Match
If your employer offers a 401(k) match, make sure to contribute enough to get those extra dollars. Even if you’re strapped financially, run the numbers before leaving money on the table. Contributions are pre-tax, so they might cost less than you think.
If your employer doesn’t allow for changes in contribution amounts throughout the year or if you truly don’t have a penny to spare, use this as an incentive to make better plans next year so you don’t miss out on free money!
Get in Doctor and Dental Appointments
If you have insurance that covers preventative care, make sure to get physicals and dental or eye appointments taken care of so you don’t lose those benefits.
Also don’t forget that all ACA compliant health plans cover vaccinations. Take advantage of flu shots if you have small kids or don’t have time to get sick. It’s also a good idea to talk with parents or grandparents about a shingles vaccination, which is covered for those over age 60. I probably see two or three patients a month who are suffering through shingles, and all of them wish they had gotten the vaccine!
Start a Fitness Program
No one starts exercising during the holiday season. We put it off with the promise to do better at the beginning of next year. Why not do better now? It may take longer than 21 days to make a habit, but if you start a fitness plan now and stick to it, the routine will might habit before the temptations of cookies, pie, and cheese platters attack from every turn.
I know I’m going to indulge a bit during the last six weeks of the year, but I also know I exercise enough burn off most of my sins. You may never truly love working out, but once physical activity is ingrained, you’ll be loathe to go without. I don’t always enjoy exercise, but I always love the feeling after a workout.
Set Your Christmas Budget and Figure Out How to Fund it
The earlier you can establish a Christmas budget, the easier it is to avoid overspending. Once you have a plan in place, take advantage of sales or deals as they come so you won’t end up shopping at the last minute.
Don’t forget to include teachers, work colleagues, neighbors, or other non-family members you will shop for. There is no rule that you have to buy everyone a gift, but if you think you might, go ahead and put it in the budget.
There are always creative ways to come up with extra money for holiday expenses
- Sign up for a new credit card or bank account to get a bonus.
- Sell items you don’t need anymore.
- Save per diem money from business trips. I’m getting $600 in meal money for my Alaska trip. Guess where most of that money is going?
- DIY hair coloring and nail care to save on salon bills.
- Sign up for surveys or focus groups. I just made $10 dollars for filling out surveys about my bank.
- Work at holiday events. As businesses start to offer holiday events and parties, look for ways to take on temp jobs like catering, babysitting, security, music or entertainment, playing Santa or an elf, serving hot chocolate, or helping with decorations. The possibilities are endless.
Whether your goals for the end of the year are financial, physical, or personal, make sure to have a plan in place so you don’t procrastinate to the point of ending the year on a low note. Even if you don’t accomplish all your goals, at least you’ll feel better knowing you did your best.
What are you hoping to get done before the end of the year?