How I’m Preparing for the New Year

It’s crazy to think that there are just 14 more days left in 2017. As the year comes to a close, and things start to slow down, I like to use this time to prepare for the year ahead.

Tax planning
The tax accountant in me always thinks about this first. With only one payroll period remaining, now is a good time to evaluate your tax position. If you do not have access to a CPA who can run a tax projection for you, the IRS has a helpful withholding estimator to aid in projecting your 2017 tax liability. I found this tool very useful for those with a relatively simple 1040, but if you need to include business income, you’ll need to have a pretty good estimate of your net income to include in the calculator, as it does not have detailed business income inputs.

If you need a more comprehensive calculator, check out the TaxCaster by Intuit. This one is slightly less accurate, but will provide a good estimate for different scenarios. If you have not adequately withheld for the year, be sure to pay in an estimate by January 18th to reduce your exposure to unnecessary penalties.

 Sidenote: If you are receiving a huge tax refund for this year, shame on you! That was money that you could have invested throughout the year. Next year consider adjusting your withholding and tuck more of that money away, pay down some debt, or get it in an interest earning vehicle.

Analyze the budget
Remember when I said to construct your budget with a long-term view? Well now is the best time to begin that process. Review your 2017 budget, comparing estimated items to what actually happened this year. Did you achieve your savings goal? Did you pay of as much debt as you planned on? If not, why and what can you do differently? This will help you determine what adjustments need to be made for new year.

Set Family Priorities for the Year
Are you and your partner planning to buying a new house, or have a baby this year? Honestly, we’re trying to avoid both of those things like the plague for now. But we are looking forward to ramping up our investments and take a big trip with friends. During these last weeks of December is when we like to check in and set priorities together, to start the new year with a solid game plan in place.

Review Goals with Accountability Partners
I have a solid group of friends, affectionately known as my Work Wives, who are equally passionate about their personal and professional goals. Every so often we get together to dish on our life updates and check in on our goals. It’s always great to have people in similar stages in life to exchange ideas with, and give me a swift kick when I need help staying on track. Plus there’s brunch so #WIN.

Organize and Clean
I’m one of those people who has to start the new year with a clean house and totally clean laundry. I have no idea where I picked this up, but it feels good to start the new year off fresh, literally. I like to spend a few days tidying up my office files, cleaning those areas that tend to get neglected, and checking off those tasks I’ve been putting off for far too long.

Treat Myself
The holidays are great, but between all the cooking, and running around, it can take a lot out of you. Every year I plan something special for myself. This month’s treat will be a mini spa day. I’ll enjoy a nice facial at Skinphorea, the new facial bar and acne clinic in town.

Prepare for the January Financial Fast
Several years ago, a good friend invited me join in an annual financial fast. We’d just spent two months spending money on gifts, eating decadently, and attending holiday outings with friends. For the entire month of January we’d do a hard reset with our finances, evaluate our spending behaviors, and develop better habits for the year ahead. I continue this every year as a way to start fresh (and allow my debit card to cool off). During this time we avoid spending money on anything other than the essentials. You can find more information about the fast here.

Everything is easier when you have the support of a group. If you are interested in joining the financial fast, click here to be added to the FGF January Financial Fast Facebook group. The group will be your accountability partners throughout the fast, providing encouragement and creative ideas for staying on track. I’ll be posting a daily check-ins as well creative strategies to keep you on track.

What are you doing to prepare for 2018? What are your goals for 2018?

 Let me know in the comments!

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