January may seem like a lifetime ago now that we're heading into the final stretch of the year, but that doesn't mean you can forget about the money goals you set for yourself way back when. Even though you'll be focused on holiday shopping, travel and stuffing yourself full of turkey, take time out of your busy schedule to be proactive about your finances. Here are five to-dos that can help.
1. Tackle Open Enrollment Season
Deadline: Saturday, November 4
November 1 doesn’t just signal the start of the month — it’s also the beginning of open enrollment season. This means you have to enroll in the health care plan of your choice by December 15 if you're looking for insurance on the marketplace. Your workplace will likely have their own separate deadline, but many companies try to wrap this up by sometime in November. Finding the plan that’s right for you can be an overwhelming task, though, which is why we assembled a six-step checklist to tackling open enrollment.
2. Make a Game Plan for Holiday Shopping
Deadline: Tuesday, November 7
Starting your holiday shopping without a clear budget is a bit like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach: By the time you've hit checkout, you've got more items stuffed in your cart than you'd like, and you probably don't need half of them. If you're not even sure where to begin, it might help to take a look at how much you spent last year and trim from there. To help you stay in budget, check out these tips for getting the best deals on holiday gift shopping. And keep in mind the new UPS shipping rates, which are set to increase during peak holiday shopping season.
3. Get a Seasonal Side Gig
Deadline: Friday, November 17
Picking up a side gig is a great way to make some extra cash, and this is a perfect time to find one. Maybe you can rent out your house on Airbnb for when you’ll be out of town for Thanksgiving or find some small jobs on TaskRabbit that require your unique skillset (both gigs earn more than you might think). Another alternative: Check your local stores to see if they’re in need of more retail associates during the holiday madness. And don’t forget that exams are approaching for students, so it might be worth looking into online tutoring gigs on sites like Tutor, Skooli, Wyzant and Chegg.
4. Practice Gratitude
Deadline: Thursday, November 23
You’ve probably been told to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving, but did you know feeling thankful can actually help you save money? That’s according to a study from Psychological Science, which found our buying impulses are lessened when we feel more grateful. It’s a practice easier said than done, of course. But if you need a little more convincing, read the stories of these five people who turned gratitude into dollars.
5. Track Your Charitable Donations
Deadline: Tuesday, November 28
November 28 is Giving Tuesday, so it's a good day to get some end-of-year donations to your favorite charities. Then, take some time to keep a log of all the donations you've made this year. Many taxpayers forget to track what they donated for tax time, so to help ensure you're getting the most out of your charitable deductions, follow this guide to documenting your donations. And remember, the holiday season isn't the only appropriate time to give – here are some ways you can maintain a generous spirit all year-round.