Tag Archives: financial check up

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}