financial checklistHave you ever created a year-end financial checklist? If not, you are missing the boat! This is something that can improve your financial situation at the present time, while also making life easier in the year to come.

Of course, there are many reasons and excuses for not working on a year-end financial checklist: you don’t have enough time; you don’t have the right information; you don’t know where to start. While you could once again rely on these excuses to bail you out, why not take the initiative this December, and create a year-end checklist that will help better your situation for many months to come?

Here are five things to include on your checklist.

1. An overview of your savings, as well as the progress you have made during the past year
In short, determine how much money you have in the bank at the present time, as well as how much you've saved throughout the year. For example, you may find that you had $10k in savings in January 2010. Now, you have $20k. This means that you saved $10k over a 12 month period. Are you happy with this? Will you be able to do it again next year? Do you want to save more money in 2011?

2. Tax information
It is never too soon to begin preparing for tax season. Even though your return is not due until April 15th, it makes good sense to include the proper information on your year end checklist. This should include how much you paid in taxes, an estimate of the amount still due or the amount of a refund, and any information on deductions and credits. You may not want to believe it, but taxes greatly affect your overall financial situation. It is important that you always know where you stand with the IRS, as well as where you stand with your state and local tax agencies, too.

3. Review your insurance policies
Most importantly, take a close look at your health and life insurance. While doing so, consider how much you pay each month, whether or not you are happy with the coverage, and if any changes are in store for the year to come. Some insurance policies (health insurance) are paid for and used time and time again. Others, such as life insurance, are not for regular use. Instead, you continue to purchase this coverage to protect your family should the unfortunate occur.

4. Did you reach your financial goals for 2010?
As you look back on the year, you will probably find that you reached or exceeded many of your goals. At the same time, you may find that you came up short on quite a few. Even if you failed to reach any of your goals, it is essential that you assess your situation to ensure that this does not happen in 2011. You can learn a lot about your finances by reviewing your goals, and considering your successes and failures.

5. Debt, debt, and more debt
If you are like the average American, you have some sort of debt weighing you down. This can include everything from a mortgage to a car loan to a credit card. How you deal with this debt will have a big impact on your financial future, just as it played a major part in your financial past. It is important to list out all your debt at the end of the year so that you can devise a plan on how to attack it down the line.

Final Word
This statement is echoed by tens of thousands of people every year: "I never have time to make a financial checklist because I am so busy at the end of the year!"

Many years ago, I was one of these people. I never had time, and I continued to let December come and go without looking back at the past year or planning for the future. But guess what? Once I got in the flow of creating a year end checklist, I realized just how much better my financial situation had become.

It only takes a few hours to review the five points listed above, (as well as any others that you find to be important) and dig up all the necessary information. When complete, you will feel much better about your finances as you head into the New Year.

Now that you know what to include on your year-end financial checklist, the last thing left is to get started!

(photo credit: Juggling Frogs)

1 comments

  1. Jane Sanders // January 20, 2011 at 7:24 PM  

    I've never really made a financial checklist before, probably the reason why I always cram when it's tax season. I'll try this year and hopefully I actually follow it.

    Can you show how your financial checklist looks like?