It’s a new year, which means I have a few things on my financial plate this month. Beyond plotting my goals and saving plans, I also do a little house keeping in January. Mentally, I think of this list of my financial Spring cleaning list, even though I’m fully aware that it’s the middle of the freaking winter. In fact, you could do this financial check list in Spring, but since January is typically a pretty bleak month, I like to get these things out of the way at the beginning of the year. You know, something for the financial nerd in me to look forward to.
Here’s a list of financial stuff I try to do once a year.
I Look At My Budget
I mean reaaaally look at it. I look at my budget almost every day, but I don’t really take a cold hard look at the details more than once a quarter, and I don’t really dig down and question every dollar more than once a year. I scrutinize every line and make sure I’ve squeezed every last dollar I can out of it. This year, there are a few places where I could definitely save:
- My husband and I got a $100/month discount on our rent (easily our biggest expense) by offering up part of our space for the owners of the house to use. We didn’t need the space anyway, and they did, so it works out, plus savings! That extra cash is going directly into my emergency fund.
- I started getting massages back when I had health insurance and it was free. Now that I’m at my new job, the health insurance is no more, and I really need to stop booking appointments. It feels great, but it’s not worth the expense.
- I was paying for balance protection on my credit card – but I never carry a balance anymore. It was only $4 per month, but a quick call eliminated that cost forever.
I Check My Credit Report
This is a new one for me. I just checked my credit report for the first time and I’m happy to say everything is as it should be. (Goal – CHECK!) I’m going to get into the habit of doing this once a year. You can check your credit report for free via Equifax or Transunion, all you need to do is fill out a form and mail in copies of your IDs. Or you can pay, and do it online. It’s not free, but it’s instant.
I Make Sure I’m Getting the Best Rates
I already do 90% of my banking with ING Direct, and I really enjoy the whole no fees and decent interest rate thing. I still have personal accounts with Scotiabank that I’ve had since I was 8. They’re raising their fees in January and it’s really making me consider switching away from Scotiabank permanently. I can’t abide paying monthly fees when I know I can get great service for free!
I’m also seriously considering looking into getting a rewards credit card, now that I know I can control my spending and not carry a balance at the end of the month. I’ll just need to do some credit card comparison shopping. The credit card I have right now doesn’t have rewards and is just your basic card.
I Plot The Year’s Big Expenses
I like to keep a running list of bigger expenses that I know I’m going to need to plan for over the year. Things like taking the dog to get her once yearly shots, buying a new set of tires for the car, etc. Those things need to be planned for and I often start saving for them for months in advance to make sure I have the cash on hand to pay for them. Every January I like to look ahead and try to predict all of those large expenses. I never get them all, but having most of them written down makes me feel more prepared for the future.
Those are the thing I do every January, now I want to hear your yearly financial chores. What am I forgetting? I want to add to this list and make it exhaustive, and to do that I need your help!