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Your Financial Life
By David Dorion / Jan 20, 2015

Setting Up A Quarterly Personal Finance Calendar, Part 1

a hand writing on a personal finance calendar

Personal finance can be overwhelming, particularly when you have other obligations such as a career and a family. One way you can stay on top of your finances is by creating a quarterly financial calendar. With a quarterly financial calendar, you can list actions you need to take to account for your debt and assets. This way, you and your finances can experience the best year yet.

January: Hit the new year running with your personal finance.

The new year is a good time to assess your financial situation and make whatever adjustments you need for the year ahead. For instance, look into the following:

Pay down debt.

  • Resolve your post-Christmas debt (and hopefully other debt) by committing yourself to a budget.
  • Focus on high-interest items, such as credit cards.
  • Set up an auto-deposit with your employer or bank in which a percentage of your paycheck goes into a special savings account dedicated to eliminating a specific debt.
  • Prepare a monthly budget for the following 11 months to give you additional finances to invest at the end of the year.
  • Investigate your home loan to find out if it qualifies for any available tax breaks.

Create an emergency fund.

  • You never know what the year will bring. So with that, now might be a good time to create an emergency fund.
  • Think about how much you can part with each month and place it inside an account you can access in an emergency.
  • Eventually, you would like to have enough money saved to last you a few months.

Attend to your 401(k).

  • Ask yourself if you’re contributing enough to your 401(k). Can you raise your contribution percentage higher than it currently is?
  • If you are 50 or older, consider making catch-up contributions in which you can defer up to $6,000 to your 401(k).
  • Double-check the tax laws to make certain you’re taking full advantage of your employer retirement plan contribution percentage.
  • If you have switched jobs, combine your 401(k), 403(b) or 457 into a single IRA to better manage your finances.*
  • Are your investments too one-sided? If so, think about diversifying them.

February: Insurance checkup and preparation for tax season.

While January can be an exhausting month to catch up on your finances, February might not be nearly as hectic for you. For February, focus on insurance and tax preparation to bring your finances up to snuff.

Update your insurance information.

  • Check your life, health, disability and other insurance policies, such as property and casualty, and update them as needed. Also ask yourself if you have enough coverage?
  • Consider any life changes that may have happened to you, and adjust your beneficiaries accordingly.
  • If you’ve just been married, or had a child, make certain to include them as your beneficiaries.

Prepare yourself for April 15th.

  • April is not that far away. Start thinking about what you need as far as pay stubs, receipts and other items to make doing your taxes a breeze.
  • Collect your W-2 information, which is typically sent out by most employers by the end of January.
  • Around the same time as your W-2 arrives, your 1099 from your investments should also arrive, which lists any stock or bond transactions you’ve had from the previous year. Keep your 1099 and W-2 handy when you begin working on your taxes.
  • If you work for a company based outside of the U.S., put together your bank deposit slips or other records that show your earned income. Regardless of working for an international company, your wages still have to be reported on your federal and state tax returns.
  • Assemble proof of contributions to your IRA. Whether in the form of a cancelled check or brokerage statement, this will help your accountant make certain you receive your appropriate deduction.

March: College is calling, so are your credit scores.

March is usually when college acceptance letters are mailed out. If you or your child has been accepted to a university, make sure everything is financially prepared. At the same time, it’s a good idea to look into your credit score to make certain you’re not too far extended with debt.

Check out your college fund.

  • Review the finances you have put away for college. Familiarize yourself with any tax deductions you may qualify for on student loans.
  • Confirm that you have enough in your college fund for tuition, room and board.
  • Investigate scholarships that you or your college-bound son or daughter might qualify for.

Check out your credit card score, too.

  • Contact a credit reporting agency and take advantage of a free credit score report. It’s important you know where you stand with outstanding debt, particularly if you plan to borrow money from a lender.
  • Consider everything the report lists, which includes:
  • Your payment history
  • Your amount owed
  • Your length of credit history
  • The types of credit you have in use
  • Your account inquiries
  • Because you can receive only one free credit report per year, it’s smart to utilize three to five credit reports from different agencies. This way, you can check for discrepancies and inconsistencies in your credit score.
  • If errors are found, be sure to request a dispute report from the agency within 30 days.

A quarterly financial calendar is a great way to remind yourself of actions that you need to take during the first three months of the year. Utilize this to ensure you and your finances are on the same page throughout 2015.


 

*Review the fees and expenses you pay, including any charges associated with transferring your account, to see if consolidating your accounts could help reduce your costs.  Be sure to consider whether such a transfer changes any features or benefits that may be important to you.

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