December was all about taking a look back, but the start of January marks the time to begin looking forward and set new goals for the next 12 months.
Whether your resolution is to make the most of your monthly gym membership (beyond February), set an achievable budget for your summer travels, or finally organize your estate documents, there's no time like the present to get your finances lean for 2016.
Pencil in these key money and career to-dos to get the year started on the right financial foot.
1. Assess Your New Goals and Set a Plan of Action. Deadline: Friday, January 8
Behind the ball on setting a New Year's resolution, and not sure where to start? Evaluate your own finances alongside our primer of common money goals people work toward, and see how they can apply to and improve your own situation. If you're worried you'll fall off the wagon by June, research shows that framing your timeline in days—rather than years—leads to higher success in checking off those longterm goals. And there are plenty more strategies to train your brain to reach your money goals faster.
2. Pay Your Quarterly Tax Bill If You’re Self-Employed. Deadline: Wednesday, January 13
In 2015, you may have finally taken that risk and started working for yourself—congrats! Now, it's time to be a financially responsible small business owner, freelancer or self-employed worker by filing and paying those fourth quarter taxes before the IRS deadline of January 15.
3. Automate Your Bills. Deadline: Monday, January 18
With technology making life easier for us, there’s a lot that we can put on autopilot—including our finances. From saving a set portion of each paycheck to boosting your nest egg, get your money organized by automating your finances. You'll be ahead of the game for 2016, not to mention ease the stress of late fees.
4. Sign Up for Health Insurance. Deadline: Thursday, January 21
If you haven't locked in your health insurance for 2016 and need to purchase a plan on the healthcare exchange, your window is slowly narrowing. Enroll in the federal healthcare marketplace by January 31 to ensure coverage by March 1. You may also want to check if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
5. Rejuvenate Your Job Search. Deadline: Wednesday, January 27
No better time than now to revitalize that grueling job search that was getting stale in 2015. Turbo-charge your job search by sprucing up your résumé, updating your social media profiles and boosting your LinkedIn strategy with tips from networking experts themselves.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.