Financial Check Up List

My husband is an organized nut. If we go somewhere on vacation, he makes a list for the tasks to be completed, from washing the laundry, packing the clothes, to loading the car trunk and has them done before I get home from running errands. If he thinks the house needs to be cleaned (former Navy SeaDog), he has an organized system for making sure everything from dusting the blinds, to weeding the garden, to cleaning up the garage is done in a short, practical amount of time. And he insists that I do the same. Otherwise, he says, I’ll run in a chaotic manner because I have to much going on (He’s right. But I call it chaotically organized.)

In actuality, I am not as attentive as he is. But when I do make decide to take the lead, I do it with enthusiasm and aquire the rewards: better organization, less stress and a sense of accomplishment.

I am sure plenty of you are as busy as I am. So I took the leisure of preparing to-do list of things you should tackle this season to improve your financial situation. Reap the benefits as you accomplish each task.

Review your health-insurance options. In November, most employees are given the chance during open enrollement to make decisions about their health insurance benefits for 2011. Be sure to look closely at your options because employers will be making some changes to their plan as a result of the health-care reform.

Start a flexible-spending account for 2011. If your employer is increasing deductibles and co-payments for your health insurance, as many are, then its a good idea to start contributing to a flexible spending account. An FSA lets you put aside pretax money that you can use tax-free for medical expenses. There is no maximum contribution for FSAs (until 2013), but consider contributing only the amount you intend to use. If you are getting close to the end of the year and a chunk of change is still sitting in your FSA, it results in a forfeited balance to the employer. Any money remaining ends up right into the pockets of your employer.

Sign up for bank alerts. Now that banks can no longer charge overdraft fees on debit-card transactions (unless you opt for overdraft protection), its important to keep close tabs on your balance so your purchase are not declined for insufficient funds. An easy way to do this is to sign up for your bank’s balance alerts.

Make tax-saving home improvements. The tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements expires at the end of 2010. If you have heating units, hot water heaters, windows, or insulation that needs to be replaced, be sure to do it by the end of the year. See the Energy Star website for more information on the types of improvements will qualify for the tax credit.

Boost your 401(k) contributions. If you are in a position to contribute the maximum to your 401(k) this year ($16,500), go for it. If you are 50 or older, use the Catch up Contribution provision to add an extra $5,500.

Clean out your closets and donate what you don’t need. If you itemize on your tax return, take all that stuff to Goodwill or any other charitable organization and claim a deduction for your contribution. Consider using Turbo Tax ItsDeductable Online to keep track of your deductions.

Draft a holiday budget and start setting money aside now. With only 93 days until Christmas its a good time to start saving now if you haven’t started and avoid going into debt this holiday season. Here are 12 Christmas Gift Ideas for Under $10 to help you plan a frugal gift exchange.

{Photo Credit: Work It Mom}

17 thoughts on “Financial Check Up List

  1. LoveBeingRetired

    It looks like your husband’s organizational obsession is rubbing off – very nice, thorough list you have created! One other thing that we are doing to be a little more frugal is reviewing options for our cable TV service. We pay $100/mo for a combination of movies and local programs when in fact we really watch very little – maybe “Two and a half Men” at night but not much more. I have researched going to an antenna option and it looks good based on where we live. TIVO (we have an old box that can still be used) offers a service for $10/mo which includes recording capability and everything the antenna captures which should be all we need. Bye bye cable bill…

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      LOL. I am glad that you like. Yes, his ways do tend to rub off on me to a degree (but don’t admit that to him). ;) That is a great tip on reviewing options for cable (I loathe our bill). I envy you on the getting rid of the cable bill. Unfortunate for me, my hubby is a sports buff. We almost have it all (we both said no to buying the football package – something like $300 for the season – ouch).

      Reply
  2. Jenna

    What a great list! I would add consider what presents you can make for the holidays. That is a great way to save money too!

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      Hi Jenna, glad you like. I tried making frugal Christmas gifts last year (I hope you enjoy the list), but it proved difficult with my full schedule. I definitely know what they mean about starting ‘Christmas in July’!
      This year, I am hoping to bake biscotti and make truffles. Plus I am intriguing the idea of making seasoning mixes for grilling and/or chili beans and or homemade soup mixes and putting them in decorated mason jars – a gingham bow and wooden spoon attached. I just wonder… people sometimes have a stigma against homemade gifts. Will it sit on a shelf and collect dust?

      Reply
      1. Jenna

        Thanks for the list! I’m planning on making mulling wine spice bags for friends and beer (from my homebrew) brittle. In cute little bags and boxes for holiday presents.

        Reply
  3. Jesse

    These are great tips! You reminded me of a couple things I need to do before the end of the year like get my FSA setup and start Christmas Shopping :)

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      Fortunately, we don’t incur a lot of medical expenses in our family. So I haven’t started an FSA because of forfeiting my funds due to not using them up. But I think for some getting ready to start a family or with predisposing medical conditions, it would be great.

      As for Christmas shopping… I am in the same boat. I need to get going and stop making excuses or I may literally pay for it later. ;)

      Reply
  4. Barb Friedberg

    Good list-I have a confession (don’t tell anyone) I’ve never done the FSA. But… this year I’m signing up, it’s a great money saver, you just have ot plan to use up all the funds by the end of the year. When you’re done with him, could you please send your husband over? :)

    Reply
  5. Sandy L

    The thing that’s been on my list and I never seem to get to is getting insurance quotes (for car, home, life). Good fall activity. I also like to adjust savings goals at the end of the year too. Good list.

    Reply
  6. Jimmy1920

    Good advice on the FSA.
    However, healthcare reform has one change that affects what you can use your Flexible Spending Account for. Effective January 1, 2011, over the counter medications (eg. Ibuprofin or Claritin) are no longer allowable expenses unless dispensed with a prescription.

    Reply
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  8. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    I just got the notice from the company that runs our FSA – open enrollment ends on 10/31! We are going to jump right on this. The only problem is that we purchase a lot of OTC drugs using our FSA, and now Obama has taken that privilege away from us! So we have to really think about how much we will contribute.

    Reply
  9. loan calculator

    Definitely tips are very good. I agree your Financial check up lists .Thanks for mention here…

    Reply
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