How to Prepare Your Finances for the New Year

Preparing for the New Year can always be a challenge. After all, most of us are trying to figure out how to make sure we do it better than we did this year. And with the pandemic going on this year, next year is certainly no exception! Because of COVID-19, a lot of us took some pretty big financial hits this year. I don’t know about you, but we want to make sure that we do everything in our power to secure our financial success next year so it won’t be as painful. Therefore, we wanted to give you a good guide to help you prepare your finances for the New Year and help ensure your future financial success.

Go Over Your Budget

The first step to really determining your future financial success is to go over what happened this year. And, the best way to do that is to go over your budget. If you had one, that is! If you didn’t, this step might be a bit more time consuming. But it can be done!

I prefer good, old fashioned Excel spreadsheets, personally. But, my spouse is more of a visual, hands on kind of guy. So, something more physical, like this budget planner, is a great idea for anyone like him. No matter how you choose to create your budget, just make sure it is something that will work well with your personality.

I plan to take a good, hard look at everything we have spent in the following categories:

  • Auto
  • Food
  • Beverages (including alcohol)
  • Household
  • Clothing
  • Gifts
  • Luxury

Since our regular household bills remain the same, those are already accounted for into our regular monthly budget. Therefore, this list is a good place for you to start a dissection of where this year’s money went. And if too much of it has flowed out of your hands and into the wrong category this year, now is the time to recognize it. This way you can get a better grasp on your cash flow for next year well ahead of time.

This is also the time to revisit exactly how much money you have allotted into each category. If a category amount needs to be shifted, or reduced, this is the time to do it. I know that we are changing our overall monthly budget to reduce our spending by 25%. That means we will have to change how much money we have budgeted into some of the “want” categories.

But, if we know this ahead of time, it will be easier for us to handle making less income next year. So prepare your finances now by starting with your budget, in case this pandemic continues through the whole of 2021.

Emergency Fund Needs

Another huge category to reflect on, and potentially change, is your emergency fund. There are still so many people I know personally that don’t have an emergency fund that it makes my head spin. Especially in this day and age when so many people are losing their jobs left and right. It seems completely inconceivable to me to not have an emergency fund of some sort.

So, if you are one of the many people who fall into this category, prepare your finances by getting your emergency fund started. No matter how much money you have at your disposal, you should start putting something into it. And if you aren’t sure where to start, I would suggest opening a high yield savings account so that you have the chance to earn a little bit more interest on your money.

Even though the rates aren’t nearly as high on any of these high yield savings accounts as they were a year ago, it’s still better than nothing. For us, the goal is to keep at least 6 months of monthly expenses in our emergency fund. But, ultimately, we would like to bump it up to a full year in reserves, just to feel more comfortable.

If you need something that makes it even easier to put money into an emergency fund, then something like Digit may be right up your alley. You can connect your checking account and credit cards to your Digit savings account. Any time you spend money from your connected accounts, Digit will round-up the difference and put it into your savings account. Or you can choose to manually move money over into your savings account at any time also. Either way, the money will come out of your checking account. So just make sure that you have the available funds needed in order to make move to your savings account ahead of time. This is a tool that I used years ago which made it much less painful for me to slowly save money.

Investment Strategy

Next, but certainly just as important, is to revisit your investments when you prepare your finances for the New Year. If you have any investments to begin with, that is. Of course, you want to make sure you have a fully stocked emergency fund first. But, investing now is also a great idea since the market has been down for the majority of the year. And investing now in your future, can only help boost your overall financial success. Plus, it can help you reach retirement earlier too. Which is a huge bonus!

If you don’t have a lot of discretionary income to work with, then there are still plenty of ways you can invest with little money. We have a few different accounts that we use that has helped us diversify our investing.

Acorns is one of my favorite investing tools because it doesn’t cost anything to get started. And you can invest how much or little you want to a month. There is a $1 monthly fee for the type of account we use. They have a round-up’s feature that also adds in a multiplier, so we’ve been able to invest a lot more than we ever thought we could.

Another one of my favorite robo-advisors is Betterment. They ask for a bit more information about you and your projected retirement date in order to put you in a better targeted fund. Which I happen to be a fan of. And their fees are exceptionally low, which was the main reason I began investing with them in the first place.

One more great option, that you can give or get as a gift also, is Stockpile. With Stockpile, you get to use gift cards to purchase individual stocks for as low as $1.99. Which is pretty darn awesome!

Review Life Insurance

A big financial decision that a lot of us don’t think about it revisiting our life insurance. I know that it isn’t something I have done in quite a few years. But, just earlier this year we decided to take another look at our life insurance policies to see if any changes needed to be made. And it was a good thing we did because the rates are a lot lower right now for life insurance policies than they were even 2 years ago.

If you don’t have a policy yet, a good place to start is with Bestow. Their rates are exceptionally low and you can get an instant quote just by filling out some information online. They offer 10 – 20 year policies up to $1 million, which gives you a lot of flexibility with your choices.

And by getting life insurance now, you will only be helping to secure the financial health of your family should something happen to you. Seeing as we are in the middle of a pandemic, you just never know these days. And it is certainly much better to be safe than sorry!

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Prepare Your Finances For The New Year Summary

Ultimately, there are quite a few things you can do to help secure your financial stability for the New Year. And preparing your finances by revisiting and tweaking your budget is a good first step. After that, revisit your emergency fund or start one if you don’t have one yet. Do your best to come up with a reasonable plan to get it fully funded as soon as possible. The next step is to take a look at your investments, or start investing if you haven’t yet. There are a lot of great tools to help you get started. And lastly, take a look at your life insurance policy, or take one out if you don’t currently have one.

By following all of these steps, you and your family will be well on your way to much more financial security next year. Even if we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

What are the steps you have taken to prepare your finances for the New Year and create financial stability for your family?