My Annual Money Routine, Part 1
Happy New Year Readers and Clients!
Do you have a year-end money routine? If not, maybe you should?
It’s one of the first things I like to do once I toast in the new year with a glass of champagne. I know, I should “get a life”, but I can’t help myself.
I’ve always loved to dive deep into numbers…it’s not the data that intrigues me but, rather, what it means to my life and choices. Can my husband and I afford to travel to a more exotic destination this year? What about replacing our second car or the front porch? Reviewing lessons learned from the prior year helps set us up for success.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be revealing my “accountant-like” behaviour and thought processes with my own finances.
Whether you like it (or not), I hope it helps you understand the value of taking time to debrief your financial life. If you can’t/won’t do it yourself, get help from a professional- it’s time and money well spent.
Getting a handle on our money makes a real difference to our happiness and relationships. Money is one of the biggest stressors in our lives. Yet, so many of us procrastinate when it comes to improving our financial health (it’s just not that much FUN or URGENT!). Far easier to ignore it than face it. We tell ourselves that things will improve once we get that long-deserved raise or new job.
Here are a few financial tasks I do religiously each year…
1) Update our net worth statement (i.e. assets less liabilities)- In theory, it should be growing each year. In reality, it doesn’t always happen that way!
2) Review our overall 2015 spending/savings vs. plan– What “surprises” did we encounter and how did they impact our spending? Did we do a great job, fail miserably or hit somewhere in between?
3) Revisit our life & spending goals– What’s new? What’s changed or needs to change? Does the timeline make sense? Are we on track to achieving our most important priorities or is the gap getting bigger?
4) Review our investment portfolio – Ok, this is really a job for our investment advisor but I like to do my own high level analysis too (I told you I like numbers)! Another set of eyes never hurts. How did our portfolio do vs. the overall market or other benchmarks?
5) Build our 2016 spending/savings plan– This is a pretty easy exercise for us (as we have a good base to start from). I’m very aware of the nature & amount of our fixed expenses. While I don’t get hung up on the details of our discretionary spending, I DO pay close attention to the total amount available.
6) Minimize (or optimize) taxes– Income taxes are a substantial expense (and often neglected by many). Am I doing what I can to reduce our taxes (now & in the future)? Starting to prepare our 2015 tax returns now helps me identify some planning opportunities that I don’t want to miss out on.
For you “non-financial” types, this exercise might sound overwhelming?
It doesn’t need to be.
Tackle it bit by bit. Review the areas where you think you have the biggest gaps. Target the actions that will make the biggest difference to your financial future. Even tiny steps, over a long period of time, can make a real impact on your financial situation. Perfection or precision isn’t mandatory- it’s the thinking and action that matters.
Make 2016 the year you make progress (large or small) on improving your financial health
P.S.- I’m always here to help!