Here'€™s All You Need to Finish the Year Strong Financially
Tap to Read Full Story


4. Make a plan for your year-end bonus or raise.

Whether it’s your annual raise or a quarterly/holiday/year-end bonus, many Americans have come to expect a little something extra from their employers toward the end of the year. In recent years, employers have doled out 3 percent raises, and bonuses of about 5 percent of non-managers and 8 percent for managers.

While it might be tempting to use that extra money to splurge during the holidays, Mary Beth Storjohann, Certified Financial Planner and founder of Workable Wealth, suggests a smarter, more measured approach: “Use 50 percent of any extra cash to pay down debt, 30 percent to bolster your savings and spend 20 percent on yourself,” she says. “That way, you can treat yourself while also making progress on your bigger goals.”

5. Take stock of your health.

In 2015, the average health insurance deductible was more than $1,300, and 20 percent of workers paid $2,000 or more. That’s a lot to shell out before insurance kicks in, and there are few feelings worse than watching that number reset to $0 at the start of the new year. So if you’ve hit your deductible, or you’re close, make sure you get your money’s worth.

Been nursing a nagging cold or injury that won’t go away? Visit the doctor now for a small copay and get it addressed before it gets worse (probably in January) and your bill is much higher, Kraus says.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to use up any money leftover in your Flexible Spending Account, as that money will eventually expire. “Dentist appointments, annual checkups, updated contact or glasses prescriptions [and so on] should all be taken care of before December 31 to take advantage of the money you’ve already set aside for this spending area,” Storjohann says.

6. Reassess your money goals.

Maybe you started the year with a goal of adding $2,500 to your emergency fund or contributing another 2 percent to your retirement savings. Or maybe you had something a little more gratifying on mind—say, saving up for a new camera or a trip to London. Are you on track to hit these goals?

Take some time to check in on your progress, Roberge says: “This will allow you to make specific adjustments if necessary, which is key to hitting your goals.”

Discovered you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be at this point? Dial your goal back to something you can reach by year’s end—say, saving $500 instead of $2,500—and work toward that instead. Saving some is better than giving up and adding nothing to your account, and this little “win” can give you a nice psychological boost to save even more next year.

Check out Grow Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Barrett’s segment on how to finish the year strong financially on Cheddar’s morning show. And learn more about Cheddar here

<< Page 2 of 2