For eleven months now, 2012 has been at your service. The time’s gone quickly, hasn’t it? Holidays, work days, hopefully a bit of vacation, too…but with December’s tinsel, Hanukkah candles and Christmas trees, the year is nearly finished.
What did you do with it?
*Are your bills paid? Were you able to cover everything, without adding to your debt? Forgive yourself if the shortfall was due to something unexpected, like a lost job or medical bill. If, on the other hand, your debt increased because of that flat-screen tv in your living room…well, it’s time to plan better for next year. (And pay off that television!)
*Did you pay anything extra toward your current debt? Payments made on time are great — but it’s even better to see your debt load getting smaller. (Not to mention that it increases your overall net work and credit score.) House payments, car payments (hopefully you’re buying, not leasing)…even one extra payment a year makes a difference.
*Did you save anything? Even if it was only $5 or so a week, it’s a start — and should have added nearly $300 to your emergency fund. (You do have one, don’t you…no? Skip a snack or a latte weekly next year, so you can start one.) Have money pulled automatically from your check every pay period; you will not miss it. I speak from experience on this.
*Did you go anywhere, or do something special? All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy. Did you take a vacation…visit a museum…go for a picnic? It’s not too late to try something new.
*Did you do any planning for your retirement? How much longer do you need to work? Will you stay in your current house…or is it better to move? Is your state a good one for retirees? Should you apply for Social Security early, or wait for a while? (More on these in upcoming articles.)
It’s not a bad idea to take stock of your financial decisions this year — even if most of them were unplanned. (Donna Freedman’s got more good suggestions on what to consider in a ‘financial fire drill.’) The holidays often contain extra time off. Why not take a few of those hours, and consider how you’ve been doing? Sure, it won’t always be pleasant — but pretending those bills don’t exist will not make them go away. And it’s certainly easier to plan for next year, once you know what you did with this one.
And, as 2012 wanders off the calendar, 2013 will come. (Unless the Aztecs were right, after all.)
Plan on it.