Are You Making Financial Headway?

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. 

are you making financial headway?

9 Responses to Are You Making Financial Headway?

  1. We didn’t apply anything extra to debt this year but it was our most successful one year debt paydown period since we moved to being a single income household in 2009 (when we started our family). The reason was that we re-financed our mortgage at the end of 2011 so our payment went up about $150 but our extra toward principle went up about $500. Pretty good investment if you ask me!

  2. Good post. Year end is a great time to assess your financial situation. I think it should actually be done several times a year, just not as exhaustively. We’ve done pretty good, especially considering I left my job earlier in the year to run our own business.

  3. Thanks for the checklist. It is easy to get discouraged about your finances on a day to day basis, but often I feel inspired when I look at the progress we have made over a year.

  4. 2012 has probably been the best financial year that we have ever had..

    I didn’t get a big raise at work.. We didn’t inherit any money.. We didn’t win any sweepstakes or big prizes.. But what we did do, is start to get our finances in order, and have paid off over $15,000 in debt, with hard work and dedication. It feels great!

  5. You’re right — paying debt off (and gaining in net worth) feels WONDERFUL!

    I’m convinced that we’ve done our best job financially, the Brick and I, when our income has been very modest. For one thing, you don’t go hogwild on spending when you know you don’t have the money in the paycheck to cover it. But little by little, you can save for things effectively.

    Slow and steady does it best.
    Thanks, all of you, for writing. And keep up the good work!

  6. Teaching myself some new skills was one of my greatest investments in many years. I took the time to research some internet languages, namely HTML5 and CSS. I bought a few discount books on the topic from various authors and set aside an hour a few times each week to read about and practice them. I feel really smart for understanding these and far more marketable to potential employers.

    For 2013 I think I will do something similar. Maybe I’ll pick a new web design language or a linguistic language.

  7. How about learning Spanish, Scott? Considering how useful it can be for travel, as well as work…
    I’d rate French and German up there, as well.

    Employers would be VERY interested if they knew you were bi- or tri-lingual.

    Thanks so much for writing.

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