Your Personal Finance To-Do List for the First Quarter of 2020
Do you feel excited about this New Year and taking the appropriate steps toward finally achieving your personal finance goals? You are not alone, according to a Wallethub survey, upwards of 99 million Americans are making finances their top resolution for this coming year. With that being said, it is time to get motivated, and hit the ground running before the winter doldrums start to sap your energy and enthusiasm. Now’s the time to repair your credit, set aside money for retirement and pay down your debt.
One reason that many people don’t stick to their financial resolutions is because they simply don’t know how to take the small, manageable steps that will keep them on the right path. Instead, they feel overwhelmed by the “big picture” of their personal finance goals and then give up before they make any progress. In this article, we’re going to break down the first quarter of 2020. We will give you an idea of what you should be doing every month, from January to March, if you’d like to stick to your goals and see progress.
Here are your personal finance goals for the first three months
During this time, you should be setting your personal finance goals. If you’re not sure where to start, reserve a few hours on the weekend and brainstorm everything you’d like to achieve in a notebook. Of course, you’ll want to have your “BHAG” or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, the thing that intimidates you the most. But you’ll also want to have smaller, more realistic goals that will help you feel accomplished once you achieve them.
Once you set your goals, you’ll want to create a budget. You know exactly what you’d like to achieve, so now you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to get there. Will you decide to cut out some restaurant meals, or cancel your cable subscription or gym membership? Looking back at your 2019 spending habits can guide you if you’re not sure where to start.
In January, you’ll also want to review your credit report. The three major credit bureaus provide everyone with one free credit report annually. Take the time to check your credit report for potential errors, since credit bureaus make mistakes too!
February can be a dreary and cold month for many people in the U.S., but it does have one highlight: Valentine’s Day! Even if you don’t have a significant other, you can still celebrate the holiday by loving yourself and your finances. Do you have a strained relationship with money? Now’s the time to try to love money again and realize that it’s not the enemy: money can help you live the life you want. Spend some time rethinking your attitude about money.
Now would also be a great time to think about Spring break and summer vacations. They are right around the corner. Take the time to figure out a travel budget for both and get to planning. There are plenty of ways to save money on travel especially if you start to plan in advance.
Start to think about your taxes. With just one month before you’ll have to pay your taxes, you’ll want to start brainstorming ways that you can save on your tax bill. During this time, you’ll want to contribute as much as possible to your retirement accounts, keep track of your medical costs, put aside money for your kids’ college funds, and take advantage of tax loss harvesting.
Now is also the time to increase your savings efforts. Your tax refund is one way you can show your savings account some love, but you also can try and put more money towards things like your emergency fund. Also take the time this month to prioritize your savings goals. For example, are you saving less for retirement since you are putting a good chunk of money towards your child’s prepaid college fund? Every financial expert will tell you to put your own financial independence on track first, and then focus on your children.
The new year is for personal finance goals
Now that you know exactly what to do during the first quarter, you’ll feel motivated and prepared to continue pursuing your personal finance resolutions well into the spring and summer months. Happy planning!