Time flies, and soon we’ll be ringing in a brand-new year. Although we usually start on our to-dos in January, the end of the year is actually a great time to wrap things up and start new tasks. And there are also a number of things that have to be done by the end of the year. Get these things done to start 2016 fresh.
- Spend Your FSA
Make sure you’ve spent the money in your Flexible Spending Account, because it will expire by the end of the month. You may be allowed to file an extension if you haven’t used up all your FSA dollars, but you need to check your company policy to see if it allows that.
- Get Your Free Credit Report
We’re all entitled to one free credit report every year on AnnualCreditReport.com from each major credit reporting bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). If you haven’t gotten yours yet, make sure you get it by the end of the year. Every 4 months get a new free credit report from a different agency so that you can keep an eye on it. While your free credit report doesn’t include your credit score, it will give you a copy of your credit history three times a year for free! Did I mention for free?
- Visit the Dentist, Doctor, and Optometrist
Get a dental cleaning, health visit, and eye checkup before year end and maximize your deductible.
- Get Your Taxes Ready
Make the upcoming tax season easier on yourself by organizing your bills, receipts, pay stubs, and files before your paychecks suddenly say 2016.
- Make Your Donations
Donate to your favorite nonprofit before the end of the year so you can claim your contributions as a 2015 tax deduction and help lower your tax bill. This doesn’t just include monetary donations but also items you donate to places like Goodwill.
- Up Your Retirement Contributions
Now is the time to sneak in extra contributions before the year is over. If you haven’t contributed enough to your 401(k) to receive the full employer match and you have some extra cash, change your contribution amount before you get your last paychecks of the year. If you have IRA accounts, make sure you’ve contributed as much as possible — up to the annual maximum, which is $5,500.
- Clean Up a Storm
Get to cleaning for a fresh start to a new year. You definitely don’t want your clutter to carry on into 2016. Dust, vacuum, and scrub away so your place will be spic and span. This will put you in a better mind-set when it comes to starting new resolutions, because a clear space can represent a blank slate.
- Donate, Sell, Use Up, or Trash Clutter
When you’re done giving your place a cleaning makeover, take the items that you no longer want or need and sell, donate, use up, or trash them. They may range from items like old clothes to leftovers in your kitchen cupboard. Make way for 2016!
- Finish 3 Things You Said You’d Get Done This Year but Never Got Around To
Remember some of the promises you made at home, at work, or with friends that you never got around to keeping? Tackle at least three of them by the end of the year.
- Create and Update your “Life File”
The New Year is a great time to look at your bank accounts, update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, update your business succession plan, review named beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and payable on death designations on checking accounts. It’s time to create or update your Life File if you haven’t created one already. Make sure the people who will inherit, receive money, or handle your affairs if you die or are incapacitated, are still the people you want doing those things. Now is a good time to review and update your Will documents. Any major life changes that occurred in 2015? If so, make sure your Will, succession plan, and financial documents are up to date!
Having your Life File in place is only good if your loved ones know where to find the file and obtain the information! Make sure all of your accounts, credit cards, loan accounts, social media and passwords to these accounts are known to those that will be handling your affairs in case of your death or incapacity. If you are incapacitated or die, what would it take to keep your household and business running smoothly?
- Free Up Data Space
Delete old emails, documents, and photos you no longer need on your computer, cell phone, and cloud. Free up data space to prep for the coming year. Remember to also clear up your DVR recordings and camera photos.
- Your Business Presence
It’s a good time to apply for new jobs and job hunt, because companies are looking for hires for the New Year. You may think it’s slow season for hiring, but companies that are preparing for the upcoming year make their hiring decisions before the end of the month. Even if you’re not applying for a new job, it’s a good time to update your résumé and your LinkedIn profile.
- Think About Your New Year Goals
We often push off thinking about our resolutions until January, but try to start thinking of your resolutions now, so you don’t feel rushed in the start of 2016. Better yet, who says you can’t get started on your 2016 resolutions now?
- Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
When you review the events of 2015, what are you grateful for? Friends, family, good health, a roof over your head? Make a list of major “Happiness Points” that occurred in 2015. Pull out the list whenever 2016 seems overwhelming or when things are not going well. Remember you have resilience – you will survive whatever life puts you through in 2016. Just look at all the good things that happened in 2015!