Today is Cyber Monday and by now, everybody is in full holiday mode. I'm sure lots of people gave up some sleep for Black Friday shopping, and I know internet traffic spikes (and work productivity goes down) as people will be online today trying to hunt down deals.
While this is all good, one thing to keep in mind is that there are just 5 weeks left in the year.
Thus, I thought it would be prudent to discuss 5 things to do with those 5 remaining weeks:
- Begin planning your 2013 budget – Chances are your paycheck is going to look quite a bit different next year. Surely your health care premiums will change, deductions are likely to change, and other variables will come into play. Prepare for the adjustments that will take place, and take the time now to make any changes in your withholding rates.
- Identify a new category to save for and plan on how to save for it – Here's an easy one: Christmas. If your 2012 shopping will be funded by credit cards or by drawing down savings or some other method, come up with a plan now on how to fund next years gifts. It may sound crazy to think about this a full 57 weeks before next Christmas actually hits, but think about it this way: If you start saving $10 per week today, you'll have $570 stashed away toward next years gift buying. If you already have this category taken care of, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and come up with something else: A vacation fund, a birthday gift fund, and if you really can't come up with one, a ‘Send money to Money Beagle' fund is right for any occasion! 🙂
- Look at mortgage re-financing – Rates are low and if you haven't re-financed in awhile, you might just be able to get a great rate and some low costs. Lenders will be closing their books on the year, and they will be looking to pad their 2012 numbers by closing as many loans as they can. Take advantage of the year end and use this as bargaining leverage to get rates lowered or fees waived, something that could pay off for you for years to come. Make sure you do your homework and pick out the best loan for your overall financial goals, even if that means your payment could actually increase.
- Plan any remaining giving – If you have any funds set aside to donate, start planning what you want to do, and actually sending it out. Many people wait until the last week of the year, but the fact is many people could use that money now, especially with the holiday season kicking in, so if you are planning on giving money anyways, go for it. At the very least, have a plan in place so that you can make sure you're not scrambling on New Year's Eve to get your donations made.
- Set 2013 net worth goals – Our net worth statement looks a lot like a balance sheet: Things Worth Money (Assets), Places We Owe Money (Liabilities), and the difference between the two (Equity). For each of the categories, I project out what I'd like our goals to be. For example, I'll look at our retirement balance, forecast what we are saving as well as growth that I hope for, which leads to a number to shoot for in 2013. Repeat for the other categories, and you'll end up with some target goals. This gives a measuring stick throughout the year, as well as something to look back next year to see how you did and how you can improve moving forward.
These are just a few things that you can do, but if you can take care of even one, it'll make for a better and hopefully more prosperous 2013!
I'd love to hear some of your ideas on things you can do with the last five weeks of the year to make for a better 2013. What things have you done already? Anything on my list spark an interest?