Setting Your Financial Priorities This Year

When it comes to setting financial priorities, it’s all about planning and crossing some major “to do’s” off your list as early as possible …. this way you start off the New Year on the right foot and you score some big financial victories early on … to keep you motivated and on track all year long.

Here’s what to do and how to do it …

a. File your taxes early.

Not many people actually enjoy the process of filling out their taxes every year. But it’s the law, and most of us do have to file a federal income tax return annually. Why stress yourself out (and your accountant) waiting until the very last minute to get this task done? Instead, set a goal date well before April 15 to submit your tax returns to the IRS.

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Tip/Resource: If you made $60,000 or less last year, you can get free tax help and preparation by an IRS-trained and certified volunteer through the VITA program. That stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. To locate the nearest VITA or TCE site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887.

The Payoff: Getting this chore accomplished early will give you peace of mind, help you avoid crowds at the Post Office, and also get a check back early from Uncle Sam if you’re due a refund. Owe the government? Filing early – or at least on time – will help you too as you’ll avoid late fees and penalties.

b. Get financial help where needed.

There’s no shame in asking for help when necessary, especially in a tough economy. Think about the economic problem areas in your own life, or the aspects of your finances where you struggle financially, and reach out to a reputable, qualified professional who can guide you in those areas.

Tip/Resource: Don’t believe the misconception that hiring a financial pro is “too expensive.” You can hire a fee-only financial advisor for a one-hour consultation,  via the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Just log onto http://www.napfa.org to find a good financial planner in your city.

The Payoff: Getting financial help can put you back on the right track. It also means you’ll no longer bear the burden of fixing your economic problems all by yourself.

c. Prepare your will

About 70% of Americans don’t have a will, and that’s a huge financial mistake. Besides creating a budget, few things in the world of personal finances evoke so much procrastination as making a will. But having this essential estate-planning document is a cornerstone of good financial planning.

Tip/Resource: Can’t afford to hire a lawyer to create a will? Then make one inexpensively using an online service. Read Investopedia’s recommendations on The Best Online Will Makers of 2022.

The Payoff: Creating a will allows you to scratch off a major “to do” item on your financial planning checklist. It will also be a low-cost way to help safeguard your family in the event of your death.

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