This post is excerpted from our Ultimate 2013 Financial Calendar.
September is synonymous with back-to-school, and that means a fresh start, from new teachers and notebooks to new colors in the trees. And now, with summer quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror, it can be a fresh start for your finances, as well.
Just as students review their syllabi for the upcoming semester, create your own outline for the financial challenges of the months ahead. Freelancers and small-business owners will pay their taxes, and the rest of us will prepare to follow suit. We'll turn our attention to the holidays (already!) and check in with our credit reports.
There's no school bell to ring, but September has officially begun.
1. Book Your Thanksgiving Travel. Deadline: Tuesday, Sept. 3
You may think it's too soon, but when it comes to flights, the early bird gets the aisle seat. For the best deals, aim to book your flights the Tuesday after Labor Day. (And here are the best times to book flights for any occasion!)
2. Pull Your Credit Report. Deadline: Sunday, Sept. 8
As you did in May, download your credit report from Annualcreditreport.com to review your profile. Make sure to contact your credit bureau if you spot any errors! Credit report errors are more common than you'd think—they affect up to 42 million Americans.
3. Pay Quarterly Taxes. Deadline: Monday, Sept. 16
Q3 estimated tax payments are due September 16th for freelancers, small-business owners and those who are self-employed. Not that you'll need this, but we can also tell you what comes next if you can't pay your taxes on time.
4. Create a Holiday Gift Budget. Deadline: Sunday, Sept. 22
Again with the early bird. Review your holiday spending from last year and decide on a holiday gift budget in advance. Create a separate account for that money, and start funding it between now and December, so you’re not strapped for cash by the time party invites start flooding your inbox. Our Gift Budget Calculator can help you figure out exactly how much money you can afford to set aside.
5. Start Thinking About Year-End Tax Planning. Deadline: Sunday, Sept. 29
Even if you aren't paying quarterly taxes, you're going to want to start thinking about your own timeline. Call your CPA or a tax professional to make sure that you’ve been withholding enough on your taxes, and find out if there are any additional steps that you can take now to reduce your next tax bill. If you've been using these six steps to a simple tax season, this should be a short conversation! Need more guidance? Use our free checklist: I Want to Do My Taxes.