Between recovering from holiday parties and starting your many resolutions, we know that you have a lot on your plate right now.
Since we want to make it easy for you to have your best financial year yet, we’ve put together a comprehensive calendar of all the things you need to accomplish in 2013 to ensure that you reach your financial goals.
You can simply set calendar reminders for yourself, and start thinking about your “financial calendar” the way you do your social calendar. You’d never neglect to send your mom a birthday card after jotting it down on your calendar—so treat important tasks like saving for retirement, preparing for taxes and donating to charity in the same way.
We’ve picked months for each task, rather than specific days, so you can choose the days of the week that work best for your personal lifestyle.
Get ready for a much more organized year!
1. Redo Your Budget
Look over your spending from the past year, and decide how you’d like to change your budget, based on such new goals as saving for a big purchase or paying down debt more quickly. When drawing up your budget, make sure that you factor in spending that occurs throughout the year, not just monthly, like car maintenance fees, veterinarian bills or insurance premiums.
2. Set Up New Savings Accounts
What are your goals for 2013? Do you want to start saving for a house or a new addition to the family? What about a fabulous trip to Europe? Figure out how much you need to save, and then create a separate savings account for these goals, so you can track your progress–and hold yourself accountable.
3. Automate Your Retirement Savings (or Change the Amount)
If you’re not automating your retirement contributions, start now. Seriously. It’s the easiest way to make sure that you get on track for retirement, and you won’t be tempted to spend the money if it’s automatically transferred to your account.
And if you were maxing out your Roth or Traditional IRA or your 401(k) last year, change your automated contribution amount, since the limit has increased for 2013 by $500 for all three types of accounts. For your IRA, change your contribution amount to $458.33; for your 401(k), increase it to $1,458.33.
4. Increase Your 401(k) Contributions
If you’re not maxing out your 401(k), increase your contributions by 1%. While it doesn’t seem like a lot now, compound interest will work its magic, so that the small percentage increase pays off down the road! If you got a raise, increase your contributions even more.
RELATED: How Compound Interest Works
5. Use Your Year-End Bonus Wisely
We believe in rewarding yourself for hard work. So if you receive a year-end bonus, use 10% of it for something fun—and then use the remaining 90% wisely, putting it toward a financial priority like building emergency savings. If you didn’t max out an IRA this year, you have until April 15th to do so, so consider this, too.
6. Decide on a Vacation Budget Now
Travel is one of the most common savings goals—and also one of the most expensive. Think about how much travel you’d like to do in 2013 (and when), and then come up with an appropriate budget. Remember that you shouldn’t sacrifice your financial priorities–like saving for retirement or paying down debt–for travel.
7. Pay Your Taxes if You’re a Freelancer, Small Business Owner or Self-Employed
You have until January 15th to pay your 4th quarter estimated tax payments for 2012.
1. Get Organized for Tax Season
By the end of January, you should have received tax forms, like your W-2 from your employer or 1099s. Organize them, as well as any other information you’ll need, including records of charitable donations and other receipts you’ll use when itemizing deductions. For more detailed instructions on how to file taxes, subscribe to LearnVest’s Ace Your Taxes Bootcamp, which walks you through the process step by step. Sign up now.
2. Check Your Credit Score
As we like to say, your credit score is the only grade that matters once you graduate–It can determine your mortgage and other loans. Reviewing it every three months will keep you abreast of how you appear to creditors. And if there’s a sudden dip, it will alert you to the fact that something erroneous or fraudulent may have occurred with regard to your accounts, allowing you to take care of it immediately. To check your score for free, use www.creditkarma.com– and then find out how to improve your credit score.
3. Budget for Valentine’s Day Gifts
If you’re going to spend a little extra than usual in the “gifts” category of your budget, make sure that you’re cutting back appropriately in other areas of spending. Nothing ruins the romantic mood quite like credit card debt.