As 2023 kicks into gear, now’s the perfect time to refresh your finances, particularly in light of recession and inflation fears that continue to plague us. Hence, we’ve put together this top-of-year financial checklist. Now, admittedly this isn’t an activity that most of us look forward to, but rest assured that completing this checklist will ultimately leave you in a better frame of mind and quite likely a better financial position. Of course, all of our economic situations are unique, so some of these items may be more important than others, and most importantly, it’s best to speak to a trusted financial advisor or money coach about how to ensure you’re well-situated financially. So, without further ado, let’s start this year’s financial planning!
1. Your Budget: Time to Review & Revise
Life is expensive, and given recent inflation trends, it’s only getting more so. To know exactly how much you’re spending (as frightening as that might sound for some), preparing a budget is vital. But it doesn’t end there. It’s also important to track how your actual spending will compare to whatever you’ve budgeted, and when necessary, make adjustments. The start of the year can be a great time to evaluate and determine your desired spending habits, and you can use this guide to various budgeting methods to help you complete the process.
2. Debt: Reviewing Progress & Setting New Goals
If you’re sitting on a lot of debt — credit card debt, in particular — you’re not alone. Year-over-year, credit card balances are up fifteen percent to $930 billion. There is also mortgage debt, personal loans, student loans and auto loans to name a few. Itemize all of them, along with their respective interest rates and minimum monthly payment amounts. You may be able to consolidate some of your debts, though interest rates are on the rise so be sure to examine the terms closely and always read the fine print.
3. Savings: Reviewing Progress & Setting New Goals
The reality is that with so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck , having savings can be a luxury. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that every little bit counts (especially, thanks to the miracle of compounding interest), and having enough savings on hand can help keep surprise expenses from derailing your financial goals. Any financial adviser will tell you, it’s a good idea to have at least six months of living expenses set aside, just in case, but beyond emergency funds, the impact of long term savings can be pretty profound. As a compound interest calculator will show you, if you were to put away $100 a month starting at age 25, at 6% interest, you’d have nearly $185K in the bank by your 65th birthday. And just doubling that contribution would net you over $370K.
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4. Tax Review and 2023 Tax Withholding
It’s a good idea to start collecting and reviewing your statements as tax season approaches, particularly if you experienced any big life changes this year such as marriage, divorce, children, etc. Though taxes aren’t due until April 15, getting an early start on reviewing your documents will give you time to find and address any issues or discrepancies well before the tax deadline. You can do this with your tax advisor or on your own with the help of this tax preparation guide. Furthermore, remember to adjust your tax withholdings according to your changing financial priorities and life events for 2023, and submit an updated W-4 to your employer.
5. Insurance Policies
There are so many different types of insurance these days — health insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance and many, many more. It’s easy to simply forget about them and just pay the premiums, but you’d be wise to take a look at each and make sure you’ve got the right coverage for the year, particularly if you’ve made any meaningful changes that should be accounted for in the policy — such as changes to your home or expensive items that should be reflected in your homeowners policy, for example.
6. Credit Score & Credit Reports
Americans typically each have three credit reports from three different credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion), which document our credit account balances, whether we pay bills on time or miss payments entirely. These reports are used to calculate our credit scores, which in turn are used by financial institutions when determining whether we will qualify for loans and what our interest rates will be. Generally we’re allowed a copy of each of those reports once a year, however the bureaus have allowed consumers to freely pull their reports once a week through December of 2023. It’s important to review the documents at least once a year to ensure that the information on them is accurate, and doing so at the top of the year can give you a clear view of where you stand and how to structure your financial goals for the year. If you do find mistakes, you can dispute credit report errors directly with the credit bureaus. Remember, though these reports may look similar, they don’t all necessarily contain the same information, so be sure to review each one carefully.
7. Your Financial Plan
Last but not least, it’s important to review your long term financial plan at least once a year, and if you don’t have one, there’s no time like the present to get started. A financial planner can help you put this together and it will encompass most if not all of the items we’ve already covered on this checklist. Financial plans help you prepare for life’s big financial moments — both good and bad. We’re talking about student loans, weddings, buying a house, losing a job, writing a will and choosing beneficiaries, and, of course, retirement. All of these goals and challenges can seem insurmountable when we think about them, which is why it’s important to get them out of your head and down on paper. We’ve put together this guide to creating a financial plan to help you get started.
Staying on top of your budget can be stressful, especially when costs keep increasing. However, there are several money moves you can make to ensure you keep up with your bills and stay on track with your retirement savings. In fact, the top of the year is the perfect time to take stock of your financial situation and reevaluate your budgets and money goals.
If you need a tighter grip on your funds, opening a SoFi Checking and Savings account could be part of your end-of-year financial checklist. Automatic savings features and zero account fees make money management a breeze. Plus, SoFi members get access to free one-on-one career services to help with career transitions.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
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