Christmas decoration and notebook

End Year Financial Checklist

“Earn Nicely, Spend Wisely, Live Happily.”

As the year comes to an end and the holiday season finally approaches, our already hectic lives get even busier. Parties, family gatherings, work, children’s school events, and shopping all compete for precious time. There is a lot to do this time of year and that includes some financial housekeeping, which means you should try and take some time and think about your finances at the end of the year. It gives you clarity. Here’s how to do it.

Review Your Goals & Budgets

You had goals and plans for 2018, did you achieve them? You might have considered the 52 week’s saving challenge. How far are you on that? You may have started the year with a clear budget, did you to stick to it?

Take a look at your 2018 spending patterns. Are there areas where you were consistently over your budget? Were there a lot of unanticipated expenses? Did you meet your savings goals? With this year’s facts and figures in front of you, it will be easier to plan and prioritize your expenditures for the next year.

Review Your Net Worth

This is something we rarely do but it’s a worthwhile annual exercise. Calculating your net worth annually gives you a clear picture of where you are and where you need to go. It is actually the best way to figure out if you are growing financially.

To calculate your net worth, simply add up your assets, that is what you own like home, car, savings, business interests, personal property, investments; and then subtract your liabilities, that is what you owe like mortgage and other loans.

Knowing this will allow you to track your progress every year. It will also give you an incentive to improve your net worth by reducing your debts.

Review Your Retirement Savings

Retirement planning is something we ought to do from the day we get our first salary. Retirement savings that earn a compound interest or are invested in stocks tend to perform well over time. It is therefore very important to commit to regular deposits to your retirement plan and review the plan at least annually.

If you have let retirement savings slip this year, recommit to making it a priority. If you ever needed more encouragement to save for retirement, think of the tax break you get when you save for retirement. Up to Ksh. 240,000 a year (or Ksh. 20,000 a month) that you save for retirement every year is tax deductible. Most people wouldn’t mind a tax break right now.

Review Your Investment

It is a good idea to evaluate how your investments are doing on an annual basis and check to see if your portfolio still reflects your goals and personality about risk.

Keep in mind, though, that rebalancing your portfolio after evaluation does not protect against losses or guarantee that your goals will be met.

Conclusion

The end of the year is the best time to take stock on where you stand with your personal finances. Reviewing the year’s expenses will help you set goals for the New Year and understand the areas where you can adjust your spending so you can save more. Saving money does not have to be overwhelming.

A new year is like a clean slate. Do not beat yourself up over what you did not do in 2018. Focus instead on what you will do in 2019 to make it your best year yet. It may sound like a cliché but remember, it is all about making a positive change in your life, so start small and set reasonable goals for yourself based on your realistic income and expenditures.

Happy Holidays!

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