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Finish Strong!

We are well into the final lap of 2015 so it’s a good time to see where you are on meeting your goals and make a last push this month to achieve some things, wrap up some things, and get some things done before 2015 fades away. Here is a quick checklist of things that it may be helpful to review:

  1. Savings goals:

  • Did you fully fund any retirement plans at work? If not, can you up that contribution to get a bit more in there before year-end?
    • As you plan for the new “open enrollment” period, can you increase the contribution a bit to stash away more in 2016?
  • Have you got 6 months of income saved in a savings account or other low risk investment?
    • If not, organize yourself now to start putting away a bit more until you get there. You don’t want holiday spending to put you further away.
  • Have you contributed savings toward college savings accounts if you have children?
    • Are you encouraging your children to save for their own education?
  • How about funding Health Savings Accounts or IRAs? You do have until April 15th to get those accounts funded but you have to have the cash to do it so be sure that you are on target to meet those goals.
  1. Reducing spending:

  • Health care enrollment is upon us. Take a close look at your plan options and make sure you are maximizing your plan.
    • If you did not meet your deductible this year, consider raising it for 2016. A higher deductible will result in lower premiums. Take a little time and analyze what you spent on medical costs during the year and what your plan covered. Compare that to other options out there.
    • Speaking of health care, have you gotten your annual physical, pap test, mammogram and other health screenings? (oops, I need to schedule my mammogram!) Take the time to take care of your health. You can’t take care of your family or your job if you are sick.
  • Take a look through your credit card statements for auto-debit items. Do you read those magazines that you are subscribed to? Could you reduce your TV package? Do you go to the gym? What is lurking that you may have cooled on? I am going to cancel a membership that I am just not using. Even $16/month adds up over a year’s time.
  • Have you looked at your home and auto insurance lately? Are your coverages appropriate? Could you raise the deductible in order to reduce the premium?
  1. Status check:

  • Life insurance – do you know when your term expires on any term policies? Buying a 20 or 30 year term policy back in your 20’s means that those term expirations are creeping closer. You will want to get new coverage in place as that date starts to get near (I would investigate it at least 6 months prior to an expiration if you still need insurance coverage.) You can also ask about conversions to permanent insurance if your policy allows it. This is a consideration if you may not qualify for new insurance due to health considerations.
  • Do you have credit card points accumulating somewhere? Last year at this time, I realized I had a lot of “points” stacked up on my card. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of over-priced stuff,” I thought. Whoa – I found out I could also buy cash back to my checking account or as payment on my credit card. I got a hook-up by using those points at holiday spending time and I now watch them like a hawk to redeem as soon as I can.
  • Have you completed any charitable giving that you plan to do? That deadline is 12/31 so you will want to make your donations now. Look for coat drives, blanket drives, clothing drives or just round up your household items for donation to any of several great organization. Keep an accurate list of what you donated and find the “thrift shop” value in order to get your tax deduction. You DO need a receipt from the organization.

With the holidays coming up, now is the time to check in on a few of these areas so that you can finish 2015 with goals met, plans made, and ducks in a row. Nothing says Happy New Year like finishing this year strong.

To your financial success