Your November 2011 Financial To-Dos

November To-DosAlthough Thanksgiving hasn’t even hit yet, it already feels like holiday madness is in full swing.

In addition to our holiday preparations, there are those financial things we’re supposed to do before the end of the year … all while guarding against downward spending spirals (if we’ve already blown our budget, what’s another $50?), keeping from becoming too busy and maintaining an insanely organized life (really, it's possible!).

Every month, we bring you the top financial to-dos. We hope that this month’s list will help you maintain perfect inner peace even when holiday craziness rages on around you. Get in, get out: Once you take care of these quick to-dos, you’ll be all set to enjoy the best parts of the season.

Check these off your list:  

Make a Healthy Eating Rule. Deadline: Wednesday, November 2

Money is only as good as the health that goes along with it. Studies have shown that it’s easier to stick to set rules than it is to exercise willpower on each occasion. So, before digging into the season of delicious food, permanently skip the “but it looks so good” debate and create a few ground rules. For example: only one dessert per event (so you choose the best one instead of “a little of everything”) or no chocolate (you’d decline everything with chocolate in it, but could still indulge in the season’s pumpkin delicacies).

It goes without saying that you’ll be grateful in the new year when all your friends are shelling out for personal trainers to undo the damage.

Reassess Your Budget. Deadline: Monday, November 7

If you haven’t already planned out your holiday gift budget, now’s the time to catch up. (Here’s the new gift list technique we’re following this year.)

Figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend this holiday season by tracking exactly how much you’re earning and spending on other expenses, using LearnVest’s My Money Center. This is the time to adjust your budget for any financial life changes you’ve had recently, like if you’ve recently gotten a raise or decided to have a baby.

Choose a Health Care Proxy. Deadline: Wednesday, November 9

Deciding on a health care proxy—the person to whom you give the authority to make decisions about your medical treatment if something ever happened to you—is as simple as printing out a page or two, filling in a few blank lines and passing it out to your family and lawyer. Although it’s never fun to think about worst case scenarios, this five-minute step could save your loved ones thousands of dollars in legal fees and lots of heartache. (These vary by state, so try Googling, “Health care proxy form + [your state].”)

Contribute to Charity. Deadline: Thursday, November 17

If you were thinking of giving to organizations you care about, now is a good time. Whether you’re donating money or items like used clothing or computers, remember to keep a record so you don’t miss out on a tax deduction next April. (What you need to know about charitable tax deductions.)

If you’d rather give time than give money, start planning where you’d like to volunteer and when—many popular volunteer opportunities fill up fast around the holidays, so think ahead. Here are some ideas.

Be Thankful for What You Have. Deadline: Thursday, November 24

Your financial life is a journey. This Thanksgiving, take some time to be thankful for what you have, how far you’ve come and where you’re headed. No matter how big or small your achievements are, tell the LearnVest community what you’re thankful for in the Confessions & Triumphs section of our community forums, LV Discussions.

What to Buy in November

What To Buy When

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

Winter Boots, Clothing and Coats:

Get in on winter sales now for the best selection

Suits:

Around the new year, stores discount their fall suits

Perfume:

A popular holiday gift, perfume is often on sale after the season

Home Furnishings:

Retailers are making room for new inventory

Calendars:

Just after the new year, prices are drastically reduced

Carpets and Flooring:

Many people spruce up their homes during the holidays, so prices plummet afterwards

Big Appliances:

Stock not sold during the holiday rush is now heavily discounted

Linens and Bedding:

Ever-popular "white sales" make January the best month for these items

Holiday Supplies:

If you're willing and able to store cards and wrapping paper for a year, you can find them now for up to 80% off

Office Furniture:

Retailers cater to home businesses starting around the new year

Video Games:

New games are released for the holidays, but you can get them marked down afterwards

Winter Boots, Clothing and Coats:

The selection is sparser, but the sales are steeper

Perfume:

Score a deal after Valentine’s Day

Homes:

Bad weather keeps buyers at bay, so competition is weak, and sellers are eager

Home Renovations:

You’ll pay less and get more attention from contractors, because few people renovate so early in the year

Bicycles:

Retailers mark down older models to make room for new inventory in February and March

Cameras:

New models come out in January and February, so buy last year’s version at a discount

Home Entertainment Systems:

The best TV and home theater sales come just before the Super Bowl

Video Games:

New games are released for the holidays, so you can get them marked down after the rush

Chocolates and Candy:

Buy after Valentine’s Day, of course

Sweaters and Cashmere:

Prices can be reduced by as much as 25% to 40% from the end of March through April

China and Flatware:

Get in on inventory left over from the holidays

Air Conditioners:

Don’t wait for the weather to get hot; demand is low now, as are prices

Gas Grills:

As with air conditioners, demand and prices are low

Gardening Tools:

Rakes, hoes, shovels and other gardening implements are as much as 50% off

Frozen Food:

It’s National Frozen Food Month, so supermarkets celebrate with sales

Sweaters and Cashmere:

Stock up now on next winter's sweaters with steep sales

Sneakers:

In spring, stores entice warm-weather runners with sales

Vacuum Cleaners:

Retailers slash prices now to make room for new models in June

Snow Blowers:

Come April, demand is low, so scoop up one for next year

Office Furniture:

Retailers cater to home businesses starting after tax season

Cruises:

This is the season for repositioning cruises, which have fewer ports of call but are cheaper and of great value

Electronics:

After the Japanese fiscal year closes at the end of March, retailers make room for new models of Japanese electronics

Sweaters and Cashmere:

Prices can be reduced by as much as 25% to 40%

Vacuum Cleaners:

Retailers slash prices now to make room for new models in June

Cookware:

Graduation and wedding promotions mean you should buy pots and pans now

Refrigerators:

New fridges come out during the summer, so stores are clearing space; negotiate a deal

Big Appliances:

Stock not sold during the holiday rush is now heavily discounted

Patio Furniture:

Warm weather means newer models, so buy last season’s styles now

Grilling Supplies:

Get charcoal and lighter fluid before summer kicks into high gear and prices go up

Small Kitchen Appliances:

Get your mixers and blenders now, when there are sales for wedding and graduation season

Party Supplies:

Whether or not you’re throwing a graduation party, stock up on disposable plates, cups, etc.

Electronics:

After the Japanese fiscal year closes at the end of March, retailers make room for new models of Japanese electronics

Mattresses and Box Springs:

Stores want to make room for new models, so negotiate a good deal now

Men’s Suits:

Father’s Day sales mean low prices

Tools:

Father’s Day strikes again

Cookware:

It’s not only wedding bells that are ringing—registers are ringing with sales of pots and pans

Paint:

When it’s hot out, no one feels like painting … which is why it’s cheap at this time of year

Butter:

Butter production is at its best in June and July, so prices are accordingly low; freeze for up to six months to make it last

Champagne and Sparkling Wine:

There are usually deals for bubbly during the holidays and before June weddings

Gym Memberships:

The outdoors beckon, so gyms are offering deals

Suits:

Get a spring suit—in the middle of summer

Furniture:

Retailers are clearing space to make room for new inventory

Big Appliances:

Take advantage of Independence Day sales

Paint:

When it’s hot out, no one feels like painting … which is why it’s cheap at this time of year

Butter:

Butter production is at its best in June and July, so prices are accordingly low; freeze for up to six months to make it last

Flip-flops:

Ever-useful flip-flops are harder to find later in the year; buy them now when retailers still have them in stock and they’re on sale

School Supplies:

Back-to-school sales!

Trees, Shrubs, Plants:

Nab end-of-summer deals late in the month, and store your plants according to instructions until next spring. Alternatively, buy bulbs, which you can plant whenever

Lawn Mowers and Swing Sets:

Stores discount these summer items now to make room for fall products

Computers:

Capitalize on back-to-school sales

MP3 Players:

Stores want to get rid of old models before October when new styles come out and the holiday rush begins

China and Flatware:

Get in on the inventory left over from wedding season

Wine:

The harvest is coming in, so you can find eclectic wines from smaller wineries early in the season

Computers:

Upgrade yours during back-to-school sales

Jeans:

The remainders from back-to-school season are now available inexpensively for kids and adults

MP3 Players:

Stores want to get rid of old models before October, when new styles come out and the holiday rush begins

Cars:

Next year’s models have arrived, so dealers want to sell the current year’s leftovers, giving you negotiating leverage

Holiday Airfare:

It’s about eight weeks before Thanksgiving, so make travel plans before flights book up and prices skyrocket

Jeans:

The back-to-school sales continue, with sparser selection but steeper discounts

Swimsuits:

Cash in on swimwear sales now through November

Big Appliances:

Buy last year’s models now; shop during Columbus Day weekend, because stores celebrate even small holidays with sales

Air Conditioners:

Temperatures are cooling, and so are prices

Gas Grills:

Pick these up now for next summer

School Supplies:

Back-to-school sales!

Toys:

Retailers lower prices as early as October in order to maximize holiday sales

Cars:

Next year’s models have arrived, so dealers want to sell the current year’s leftovers, giving you negotiating leverage

Health Insurance:

Open enrollment may be your one chance to sign up for insurance for next year

Wedding Dresses:

Wedding fever is at its lowest pitch now

Swimsuits:

Swimwear is as much as 90% off, but selection is low

Cookware:

Kitchenware becomes cheaper as the holidays approach

Christmas Trees:

For the best selection, get your tree right after Thanksgiving; it’ll stay good for at least a month, and trees later in the season have been cut weeks earlier anyway

Frozen Turkeys:

Buy one immediately after Thanksgiving, when grocery stores still have a glut

Toys:

Retailers are slashing prices to maximize holiday sales

Electronics:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer great deals on everything from TVs to computers

Wedding Dresses:

The beginning of December is the slow season, so get in before holiday engagements

Televisions:

In the run up to the holidays, stores have big sales on TVs

Pools:

Off-season, you’ll find the cheapest prices, though maybe not the best inventory

Small Kitchen Appliances:

Get your mixer and blender during holiday sales

Champagne and Sparkling Wine:

Although these are in high demand, prices are also more competitive than usual

Frozen Meat:

Buy this immediately after Christmas, when grocery stores still have a glut

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Print out your full to-do list, so you can check off your to-dos as you finish them.

  • Riverolowen

    Make sure you update your ‘family planning’ regimen so you do not begat any little
    mistakes you cannot afford

  • Anonymous

    @a4866370041e227533bc6358cf64e982:disqus …………Buddy’s sister makes $85 hourly on the PC. She has been fired from work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $7384 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it on this web site……http://alturl.com/hvwum

  • Eryka

    I’m completely on board with assigning a health care proxy (as both a social worker and a financial planner), but this is not a two minute thing.  You really want to make sure that the person you assign actually KNOWS what you want so they can implement what you want, if the situation comes to pass.  This entails knowing, you know, what you want.  So, as depressing as it might be to consider grim matters like whether you want to be intubated or other not-ideal procedures, please do…and then make sure you communicate them to your designated proxy.  And ask them if they’d be okay carrying out your wishes, too.  You don’t want to have a HCP who can’t carry out your wishes because it’d be too painful for them.   Depending on the state, you might need witnesses to your and your HCP’s signature, so…just be aware, this is actually an important step and should be treated as such.

  • Eryka

    I’m completely on board with assigning a health care proxy (as both a social worker and a financial planner), but this is not a two minute thing.  You really want to make sure that the person you assign actually KNOWS what you want so they can implement what you want, if the situation comes to pass.  This entails knowing, you know, what you want.  So, as depressing as it might be to consider grim matters like whether you want to be intubated or other not-ideal procedures, please do…and then make sure you communicate them to your designated proxy.  And ask them if they’d be okay carrying out your wishes, too.  You don’t want to have a HCP who can’t carry out your wishes because it’d be too painful for them.   Depending on the state, you might need witnesses to your and your HCP’s signature, so…just be aware, this is actually an important step and should be treated as such.