Write or update your last will and testament
If you have children or other dependent making a last will and testament is a must. Without a will the courts have the power to decide how your assets and children will be taken care of after you die. Your will is one of the most important documents you’ll every sign.
To get started there are three ways to write your will; generic forms, online services/software,
and working with a lawyer. Each of the alternatives have different costs. The generic forms are free, the step-by-step service is around $100, and the lawyers are much more than $100.
Create a budget
With a simple spreadsheet you can outline a budget. If you don’t have a spreadsheet read more about getting free office software.
Once you’re ready with your spreadsheet make a list of your expenses.
- Common expenses are:
Home, Food, Apparel, Health Care, Transportation, Entertainment, Dependent Care, Pet Care, Education, Travel, Gifts, Personal Business, Taxes, Insurance, Savings & Investments.
- Next, total up your net income: Salary, Wages, Self-employment income, Bonus pay, dividends, interest, alimony or child support, pension or retirement income, public assistance.
- Subtract your expenses from your income.
If you’re spending more than you make, stop it. All joking aside, try to update your budget frequently and plan regularly. Budgets put things in perspective and improve your financial future.
Install Personal Finance Software
To take a more active role in managing your finances try some of these free personal finance software packages.
- See the list of all the Free Personal Finance Software
Compare your insurance rates
Most insurance is vulnerable to rate creep. As time goes on insurance agencies slowly increase your rate. Automobile, home, and health insurance are likely to increase over time.
Insurance is a unique industry in that they reward the newest customers instead of their long-term customers. Competition is strong for new customers and the low rates are waiting for those who call. You could save a lot of money by switching your insurance.
InsureMe combines quotes from the major insurance providers. You can easily find quotes for auto, home, life, and health insurance.
Get your free Credit Report
The government provides a free annual credit report from the three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Tips and ideas on getting a free credit report
- Visit the government site directly annualcreditreport.com
Move your spare money to an online savings account
The national savings account average is 0.47%. Its an absolutely shameful return. Instead of getting a return like that try an online savings account. These accounts offer 5% (roughly) and are FDIC insured. They are intended to ‘piggyback’ on your existing checking account. They are easy to sign up for and transferring money is a breeze.
Optimize your vehicles performance
Check your tire pressure on your car, change your oil, and get a new air filter. Not only will your car last longer but you’ll save gas money as well. With the cost of crude surging above $100 a barrel gas prices are surely going to increase. Experts predict that prices will take a big jump this spring.
Home Energy Audit
I’ve cut my energy bill down by almost a third of what it was last year by upgrading my attic insulation, sealing windows, and adding better door seals. Not only will you be helping the planet you’ll also be saving money.
Reduce your interest expenses
Using balance transfer credit cards can save you hundreds of dollars in interest each year. I’ve avoided paying any interest on my credit cards until this year. Even though the card I’m paying interest on only has a 5.9 % interest rate it kills me to see I’ve wasted a percentage of my income each month.
My wife and I are going to apply for the credit cards and transfer our balances to these 0% balance transfer credit cards.
Calling your credit cards is another way to lower your interest rate. Call the number on the back of the card and ask them to give you the best rate they can offer. You might be surprised at how often this works.
Mortgages are another large interest expenses. With the Fed cutting the interest rate again there’s a good chance you’ll be able to refinance and get a lower rate.
Max out or open an IRA
$5,000 is the maximum IRA contribution in 2008. That’s roughly $416 a month, or $96 a week, in contributions. For a lot of people an extra $400 a month can be difficult. If that’s beyond your reach try something more manageable; like $100 month.
Opening an IRA is easier than most people think. Banks, brokers, and other financial institutes can help. As competition has increased among discount brokers their services have improved dramatically. I’ve been happy with my discount broker for my IRA.
With no fees, no minimums, and a wide range of trading options TradeKing is a favorite of mine. Most other discount brokers offer less and charge mandatory fees. Check out Tradeking to open your Roth IRA.
Year End Finincial Checklist
- Write or update your last will and testament
- Create a budget
- Install Personal Finance Software
- Compare your insurance rates
- Get your free Credit Report
- Move your spare money to an online savings account
- Optimize your vehicles performance
- Home Energy Audit
- Reduce your interest expenses
- Max out or open an IRA