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Everyone’s busy all year long. There’s work, school, and kids’ sports. Tack on summer vacation and the holidays at the end of the year, and you have even more to do. It’s easy to forget about taking care of some things that really need to be done each year. Taking some time to do them now can save you and your family time and headaches later.
1. Review and Update Your Will
You should look over your will each year to make sure it’s up-to-date. The laws don’t automatically add people to your will or automatically remove them, either. Did you get married this year? Divorced? Did you have a baby or adopt? Are your children now young adults? Your will needs to be updated for these and other life events.
While you’re at it, check your powers of attorney, too. Make sure the person you’ve named to take care of your affairs (your “attorney in fact”) is still willing and able to do so. If not, you need to make a new power of attorney.
Don’t have a will or any other estate planning tools? Get them. You can find everything you need at Lawyers.com. Whether you’re married or single, a good place to start is a planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns, talk to an attorney.
And don’t forget about your digital assets, like online bank accounts and passwords to social media and other web sites. Make a list of them and keep them in a safe or safety deposit box with your other important papers.
There are all kinds of insurance matters to take care of:
- Homeowner’s and Renter’s insurance. Did you make any improvements to you home, like remodel a kitchen or finish your basement? Did you buy a new TV? Check to make sure that your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers them
- Car insurance. In most states, it’s illegal to drive without auto insurance. You don’t want to be overinsured, though. You can save a few dollars over the year by reducing your coverage on an older car or one that’s been paid off. You can also save some money by increasing the amount of your deductible – the amount you have to pay when you make a claim against your policy
- Life and health insurance. Do you have enough life insurance to take care of your family in case something happens to you? Talk to your insurance agent about your new baby or a change in your marital status. The same thing goes for health insurance. Talk to your human resources professional at work or your agent about changing your coverage
3. Start Getting Ready for the IRS
It’s never too early to start gathering receipts and other documents for next year’s taxes. Most employers send out W-2’s or “earnings statements” before January 31st, so if you’re ready before then, you can file fast and get your refund early.
Preparation is crucial especially if you itemize deductions, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, mortgage interest and expenses related to your child’s college education. You’ll want to gather your paid medical bills, billing statements from schools, prescription receipts and receipts for cash donations you made to your church or favorite charities.
4. Credit Reports
Each year you’re entitled to one free report from each of the major reporting companies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Get and read them carefully. Any errors, like credit accounts that you didn’t open, should be reported to the agency in writing. The agency will investigate the matter, usually within 30 days, and will let you know how the matter was resolved.
With identity theft so common today, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the free credit reports each and every year.
5. Credit Cards
Check the terms of your credit cards. Rearrange your budget and try to pay-off your cards in full. At the very least, shop around for a credit card with a lower rate and see if you can transfer the balance to the new card. This could save you thousands of dollars in interest.
Next: 5 more things to do to keep your healthy, wealthy & wise