At the end of the year, it’s natural to look back on the past 12 months and consider positive changes you can make in the future. It’s important to do this with your finances too. This year-end financial planning checklist can help.
- Create a Budget
Creating a budget could be the most important thing you do to improve your finances for next year. Take a look at your account and credit card statements from the past year and get a sense of where you’re spending your money and where you can afford to cut back.
Then, using a spreadsheet, an app on your phone, or our online budgeting tool, create a budget and review it regularly to keep yourself on track.
- Make a Savings Plan
A robust savings account can help you meet your financial goals faster and protect you from the unexpected. If you already have a savings account, think about how to grow it faster. Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account is one way to save more.
If you don’t have a savings account, get started with one of Dover Federal's interest-bearing savings accounts. If you have a special savings goal in mind, use our savings goal calculator to help you reach it.
- Take Control of Debt
High-interest debt can derail your financial plans. But it doesn’t have to. Before the end of the year, take stock of how much you owe and make a plan to start paying it down.
Consider paying down your highest-interest debts first to save money on finance charges. Make "paying off debt" a part of your budget to help you stick to your plan.
- Know Where Your Retirement Savings Stand
Saving for retirement is important at every stage of your life, whether you are just starting out or your golden years are in sight.
If your employer matches 401(k) or IRA contributions, make sure you’re contributing enough to receive the maximum matching contribution. Otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.
Also, if you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan at a company where you no longer work, now could be a great time to transfer or roll over the funds to help keep these savings growing.
Dover Federal members have access to a dedicated financial advisor through our Investment and Retirement Center. Our advisor can help you identity your retirement goals, make a plan to reach them, and access a full range of financial solutions.
- Use Your FSA Funds
If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), this benefit can be a great way to simplify out-of-pocket healthcare expenses and enjoy potential tax benefits. But unless your employer’s plan allows you to carry over funds to the following year, you’ll need to spend your unused FSA funds on qualifying expenses by the end of the calendar year (or 2 1/2 months after that, if you have a grace period).
Use those funds before they’re gone by purchasing any FSA-eligible items that you need. You may be surprised to learn that sunscreen, prescription sunglasses, heating pads, and many other everyday items could be eligible. The FSA Store and drug store chains like Walgreens and CVS make it easy to find things you need that are FSA-eligible.
- Review Your Credit Score
Do you know your credit score? This number, ranging from 300 to 850, affects your ability to get a credit card, finance a home, and more. Learn what factors affect it and what you can do to improve it, and request a complimentary credit score analysis from Dover Federal.
- Make Charitable Donations
Many people in need (and many charities) are especially reliant on end-of-year giving. When you give to charities you care about, your generosity doesn’t just make a big difference for others; it can also make a big difference for your year-end tax planning.
That’s because donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible, which means they can lower the amount you owe in taxes. Make your charitable donations before January 1 to deduct them on this year’s taxes.
Boost Your Financial Literacy
Thinking about making a resolution to better manage your finances? We can help. Our P3 Financial Literacy Hub has all the resources you need to understand your current financial situation and achieve your financial goals in the future. Learn more and get started today.