Get Financially Fit in the New Year

Jan 31, 2012

The beginning of a new year often brings a feeling of change and a need to get organized. We tell ourselves we will do things differently this year, but the key is actually putting together a plan and sticking to it. Here are a few things you can do to prepare financially for the New Year.

  1. Build a budget. Start with your monthly take home pay, and then pull out your last three months of bank and credit card statements. Review them for what you have actually been spending on a monthly basis. This can either be a very enlightening process for you, or it may be very scary. I recommend that you keep an open mind and work with your spouse to devise a workable budget that also takes into account a debt reduction plan.
  2. Check your credit. Running your credit report on at least an annual basis has a number of benefits. It gives you an opportunity to take inventory of your debt, where it is coming from and how much you owe. This can be used as a starting point to come up with a plan for paying down your debt. Running your credit report annually can also be a good way to make sure you have not become a victim of identity theft. You can run a free credit report every year at This is a great service to take advantage of and utilize.
  3. Review your retirement account(s). This is something you may want to do with your plan administrator and/or financial advisor so you have a good understanding of your investment options. It is also a good idea to make sure what you are putting into your account will give you enough to live comfortably on at retirement. And remember, if you have a retirement account through your employer and they offer a match, take them up on it. Everybody likes free money.
  4. Prepare for your 2011 tax return. Organizing your tax information to the best of your ability prior to meeting with your tax preparer will give him or her the opportunity to spend more time thinking about your particular tax situation rather than shuffling through your receipts. Many accountants send out organizers for you to fill out based on your previous year's return. Utilizing these resources can be a big help to your accountant, which will in turn, benefit you in the long run.
It is definitely easier to ignore your personal finances and bury your head in the sand, but the fact of the matter is that you are only delaying the inevitable. It is important that you face your finances head on. I encourage you to take the previously mentioned steps to get you and your family in better financial shape.

Contact Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC if you would like more information on planning your finances. Our contact information for the McPherson office is (620) 241-1826 or (888) 241-1826 and our Hutchinson office is (620) 662-3358 or (888) 414-0123.