As 2018 winds down, it’s easy to get lost in the fun, the parties, and the celebrations. It’s also a great time to consider getting your financial house in order before the start of the new year.
Here’s a checklist of ten things to consider doing before you ring in the new year.
1. Automate your savings
Automatic beats manual every time.
You can use the Set-Schedule feature as part of the upcoming new and improved Auto-Stash tools to make it easier to put your savings and your investing goals on autopilot. Just program how much money you want to put aside toward your investments and how often (say $20 toward your preferred investment mix every week). No need to remember to do it. It’s a great way to build great habits, week in and week out.
2. Set financial goals for 2019 calendar year
Then, think about your longer-term goals. Are you thinking of buying a house or a new car? Just “saving money for the future” can be sort of vague (and not that inspiring). Be more concrete about what you’re saving or investing for and you’ll be more excited to get there.
3. Get inspired to save for retirement
Whether you have a 401(k) or a Stash Retire account, think about how you can start to contribute as much as you can.
An IRA or 401(k) can help lower your tax bill as you save for retirement. You can put away $5,500 in IRA and Roth IRA each year. (In 2019, the maximum contribution increases to $6,000.) A 401(k) will let you contribute $18,500 annually, and $24,500 once you hit 50.
Can you try to hit the maximum contribution in 2019? It’s definitely worth trying.
4. Review your insurance policies
Whether you rent an apartment or own a home, you’ll want to get covered. It can protect you against theft and many of other catastrophes, potentially saving you both time and agony. And if you’re a homeowner, your home or apartment may have increased in value, thanks to climbing property values, your renovations, or other updates. You may need to insure for a higher value.
Same goes for your term-life insurance policies. If you’ve had a child or grandchild, or are caring for an elderly or ill parent, you may need a higher value policy. Don’t have life insurance? Now’s the time to figure out if you need it–before you need it.
5. Check your credit report
Don’t just swipe and pray. Find out what’s in your credit report. It contains all of the information about your loans and credit accounts, in addition to personal information about you, including your name, address, Social Security number, and employment information.
Each of the three credit reporting bureaus—Experian, Transunion, and Equifax—collect this information and provides it to lenders when they perform a credit check on you. They also use it to compile your credit score.
Start 2019 on a good note. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year. Many other sites also offer you insights about your credit, without dinging your credit score.
6. Contribute to a custodial account
Got a kid in your life that deserves a head start? A custodial account is just like an investment account, except it’s for your kids or any child for that matter. Stash lets you create a portfolio in a custodial account using any combination of the individual stocks or funds on the Stash platform.
There’s no limit to how much a custodian can put into an account each year, and no maximum lifetime limit. Opening one is easy, just start here.
7. Make the most of your Flexible Spending Accounts
You may have a Flexible Spending Account or FSA through your workplace. Your FSA lets you put money away on a pre-tax basis, which can lower your tax bill while giving you access to funds to pay for many of your medical charges.
An FSA is primarily a use-it-or-lose-it account. That means you don’t get to keep any unused money you’ve put away for the year.
8. Schedule year-end health care appointments
There’s nothing more important than staying healthy. Next year is a fresh year, and most health plans will reset the clock on your annual deductible, which can mean you’ll pay hundreds or thousands of dollars before your health charges are fully reimbursed (minus your copays.) Consider scheduling medical appointments before 2019 starts.
9. Give to charity
Your gifts to charity can be tax-deductible, and there are hundreds of worthy charities out there, from disaster relief to helping fight childhood hunger. Also, your donations don’t have to be cash. Some charities will allow you to donate used clothing and furniture, among other common household items.
10. Get Stash
Stash makes it easy to get started investing and saving for all the things you want to do in life. You can start with just $5.