This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.
As the end of 2017 rapidly approaches, a lot of us are taking stock of our financial situations. For some of us, our finances will end the year in a place better than we expected. For others, we will stare at our final numbers wondering what happened. Still others will end the year in a place that inspires neither joy or worry. No matter where you expect your personal budget to end the year, there are 4 things your personal budget needs you to do before the calendar flips from 2017 to 2018.
Too many times, we forget that our finances need to be looked at for the end of the year. Yes, we all do our taxes so they get; at the very least; a cursory glance, but if you’re trying to save more money and build wealth, you should be looking far deeper than what personal taxes require. These 5 tasks will help you to settle your spending and build your savings in the new year instead of continuing to struggle with issues that you may have developed, but don’t realize you have.
5 Things Your Personal Budget Needs Before the End of the Year
For me personally, these are a must-do. I am currently going through a divorce that has done significant damage to my finances. My bank accounts and my credit score have all taken significant hits which means that in order to set things right, I have to do these four things. Whether you’re finding yourself in the same situation or not, starting a new year with your personal budget ready for growth is the only way to kickstart your finances for a new year.
Track your year to date spending – While you should already be tracking your expenses, it can be easy to overlook a small expense here or there when you’re tracking in the moment. Believe it or not, these small forgotten expenses can cause your entire budget to be off. To make certain that your budget is ready to enter the new year with you, log into your bank account and download your year to date transaction history in an Excel file. Use Excel to sort your transactions and go through them with a fine tooth comb making sure you make a note of any wasted funds. You may be surprised at what you find; I know I personally was when I did this exact thing last week.
Adjust your income – Whether we like it or not, sometimes our income changes. Sometimes that change is for the better, but unfortunately, it sometimes isn’t. Still other times, your income won’t change at all and whether that is a good or bad thing is up for you to decide. If, however, you fall into the first two categories, you will need to take the time to update not only your income expectations, but you’ll also want to update your personal budget as a whole. Failing to do so only sets your family up for financial failure in the new year.
Cut unnecessary or unknown expenses – As you’re looking through your spending for 2017, make sure that you take note of any unnecessary expenses and expenses that you can’t account for. These expenses are just wasted money. Make sure that you note any subscription costs that need to be cancelled. Uncancelled subscriptions account for a huge amount of wasted money for most families. Make a list of the companies that need cancelled and keep it separate from your list of unnecessary expenses. Cancel the subscriptions before January 1st so you can begin the new year with a clean slate.
Check your emergency fund – Did you end 2017 with an emergency fund saved in the bank or are you heading into 2018 with no way to protect yourself from a financial crisis? If so, making your emergency fund a priority in the new year should be at the very top of your financial to-do list. Start small by saving $1,000 in the bank to cover immediate needs. Once you have $1,000 saved, work on saving 3-6 months of living expenses in case you need to cover all your expenses for a few months.
Take the SunTrust onUp Challenge – In 2015, SunTrust launched the onUp Movement and even then, I knew that it was a movement that you needed to be a part of. With the onUp Movement, SunTrust took it upon themselves to provide resources to help those who get past financial obstacles, gain financial confidence and to build a solid financial foundation for their families. Nearly two years later, they’ve launched the onUp Challenge, and I believe it is something that you need to do for your personal budget before the end of the year. The SunTrust onUp Movement is completely updated with the addition of the onUp Challenge which kicks off with a “Values Challenge” and more. Starting by defining what values make you tick personally, you are able to define what the reasons behind your spending and saving are to help kick start the challenge off on great footing. Knowing where your values lie is a great way to define why you’re working so hard on your finances. For me; that reason and those values was financial stability.
From the Values Challenge, you will travel through 7 lands. Each of them teaches you another part of the puzzle that is managing your finances and keeping your personal budget in line. With each land that you complete the checklist for, you will find yourself on steadier financial footing with tips to help you with your financial goals whether it’s saving, less spending and above all; a more secure financial future that you can be confident in.
In short; signing up for the SunTrust onUp Challenge is what you need to learn the skills that you need for the New Year. In fact, I believe in the onUp Challenge so much that I’m taking it myself! It never hurts to re-think how you’ve been managing your finances!
This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.