Wow — I can’t believe it’s the end of another year and we’re already getting ready to sing Auld Lang Syne. I’ve had a blast writing here, and I hope you’ve had some fun along the way, too. More importantly, I hope you’re feeling more optimistic about your finances than you were at the beginning of this year.
Think back to January — how were you feeling? Nervous? Anxious? Overwhelmed? In my very first blog post, I asked you to set some goals. What were those goals? Were they for the year? Or for the next 30? Regardless of the time frame, I want to reflect on the progress you’ve made.
I’m sure it wasn’t fun, but then I asked you to “follow the money” — in other words, track your spending and set a budget. If you still haven’t gotten around to this yet, it’s not too late — make budgeting a resolution for 2012. And don’t forget about some creative ways to save: check with your cable provider for new promotions, consider dropping your landline, join a loyalty program at your favorite store, coupon like a pro and buy generic whenever possible.
Before we knew it, tax season was upon us, which is never a picnic. Did you get your taxes done in time? Better yet, did you get your refund? What did you use it for? I always like to put mine in my retirement account — some extra padding in the retirement area never hurt anyone.
Speaking of retirement… we talked about that a lot, didn’t we? Do you feel any better about your retirement savings, now? If this still stresses you out, don’t worry. It’s no one’s favorite topic. Just remember: save, save, save. The more you can do now, the better off you’ll be later.
About halfway through the year, I suggested checking up on your credit report and switching to a cheaper (or more lucrative) credit card, and lowering your debt load. Things you can do include refinancing your mortgage, refinancing your car loan, and looking into whether you can pay less on your student loan payments. Did you do this? Did any of it help?
As the year went on, we talked about things you can do to help your kids: create a will, get your documents in order, teach them how to save for something and how to put the older ones on a budget. Are they entering 2012 a little more money-savvy than they were before? Do you feel a bit better about their financial futures?
Personal finance can be overwhelming, I know. It’s easy to feel like there are a million and one things to do with no time to do it. But look at how much you accomplished this year. It feels good, right? Most of you might have even more you want to accomplish, and that’s alright. In fact, it’s good to have goals. Just don’t forget: write them down, and tackle them one at a time. And don’t forget to breathe. It will be just fine!
Happy New Year!