I was preparing for a last-minute holiday get-together—making pasta salad, arranging cookies, setting the table—when I heard a beep. A minute or so later, I heard another beep. I stopped what I was doing to change the battery in the kitchen smoke detector. A minute or so later, there was another beep. Apparently, that was not the right smoke detector. I changed out another battery. Another beep. It didn’t seem likely that it was the downstairs smoke detector, but I changed that one, too. The beeping persisted.
My guests were arriving shortly, and I was stopped in my tracks trying to puzzle out the source of the annoying sound. I finally noticed a light on the carbon monoxide alarm. Good thing I had stocked up on 9-volt batteries. Finally, the beeping was solved, lunch was served, and I was grateful that the battery didn’t die at three in the morning like it usually does.
I have now added the CO2 alarm battery to my annual household to-do list.
To-dos that help you sleep at night
Putting fresh batteries in all your monitoring devices on a regular schedule—like when the clocks change for daylight savings time—saves you from chasing down beeps in the middle of the night. Another list that will help you sleep better at night is your financial to-do list. Set a schedule to take care of these tasks, and you’ll feel more in control of your money:
Plan it out. Start by putting tasks on your calendar. For some things you can choose any date that works for you. There are other financial tasks—like tax filings and estimated tax payments—that have defined due dates. I put bright colored stickies in my planner to remind myself of financial to-dos. You can also set reminders on your phone if you’d prefer an annoying beep.
Get ready for the year. Here’s a good item to schedule for January, and it’s an easy one to check off: Set up some folders for receipts and paperwork. If you make a habit of putting paperwork in the right folder as soon as you receive it, you won’t have to scramble when you need it. You should have a folder for tax-related documents, and you might have a separate one for philanthropy. That way you can help keep track of where you’ve already given, because you know they’re going to keep asking.
Make April less taxing. The April 15 tax deadline looms every year. But most tax forms are sent out by February. If you work with a tax advisor, find out when they need all your paperwork so your taxes can be filed on time. If you do your taxes yourself, put a reminder on your calendar well in advance so Tax Day can be just another spring day. Tax time is also the time to update your retirement plan contributions to make sure they align with the maximums for the year.
Review your insurance coverage. Collect your insurance policies in a folder as they’re renewed. Set a time to review them to make sure you’ve got adequate coverage, and to find out if your insurance company offers better deals. Fall is usually the time when you can make changes to healthcare, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance as well as flexible savings plans. It’s even a time for retirees to review Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription plans in case a change needs to be made.
Clean up your subscriptions. Subscriptions and recurring fees can add up to a significant chunk of monthly spending. You don’t need to pay for a service to seek out and cancel the ones you’re not using. A quick skim of your credit card and bank statements should uncover charges you may have forgotten about, or free trial offers that have expired. Your online banking app might even give you the ability to sort charges by type, making this task even easier.
Manage your loans. Make time to review your loan terms and remember that a credit card is a type of loan. Did a no-fee or zero-interest promotional rate come to an end? If you have more than one credit card, keep the one with best rate or rewards at the front of your wallet. If you feel weighed down by high-interest debt, talk to your financial institution about options for paying it down.
Check your credit report. While we’re on the topic of credit, circle a date on your calendar to go online and check your credit report for any unusual activity. You can do this once a year for free at each of the credit reporting agencies. You can also choose to lock your credit report so it can’t be accessed without your authorization.
Review your estate plan. Make sure you have a will, Powers of Attorney for both financial matters and healthcare as well as physician directives and that your family knows where to find them. If your will doesn’t reflect your current wishes, ask your attorney if you can to update it with an addendum called a codicil, or if it needs to be re-written.
Update or review your financial plan. A lot happens in a year. You’ll want to make sure your financial plan considers any additional income, new expenses, or changes to your goals. Your financial planner will also be looking at how your investments should be rebalanced based on changes in the economy and stock market.
Your financial to-do list will be a little more involved than going around the house changing out batteries, but hopefully less annoying than being woken up at 3am to track down the source of high-pitched beeps. Following through on your checklist will help you stay on track with your financial goals. Contact Arrivity when you’re ready to review your financial plan. You can find key financial data for 2024 by clicking this LINK.
Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or email@example.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.
The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.