Hard to believe that 2014 will be upon us in just a few weeks. Everyone is reveling in holiday spirit but it’s also an important time to engage in the spirit of scrutiny regarding your end-of-the-year financial situation. And if you’re spent from all the holiday shopping, take a break with some egg nog (the real stuff) and focus on setting your financial goals for the coming year. Don’t look at this as daunting as it is truly an opportunity to take charge of your financial future.
If you have not accessed your credit reports in the past twelve months, then this is good time to request one either online or by snail mail. All consumers are entitled to a free annual personal report from each of the big three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. You can also go to annualcreditreport.com.
Other major areas requiring additional scrutiny will be your credit card statements, mortgage statements, investment statements and bank statements. You may need a magnifying glass but look closely at how much you are paying in interest charges and other fees you could have been hit with in 2013 ( i.e. – many banks have resumed charging service fees this year for checking and savings accounts with less than minimum balances).
Additionally, review all of your service plans such as cell phone charges, Internet connection, satellite or cable fees. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover some of these fees can be lowered based on your usage in 2013. Of course the big costs going forward are home, utilities and insurance. All these should be thoroughly vetted for possible cost reductions in 2014.
Maintaining the routine of reviewing your financial standing, making the necessary adjustments and setting new goals every December, will keep you in charge of your money and your life. Seeing how those goals were achieved by each year’s end, will always give you much to celebrate when ringing in the New Year.