Your Year in Review: An Annual Financial Checkup
One of the most valuable financial wellness habits to develop is to perform an Annual Financial Review. The best time for one is usually between mid-October and mid-February. This makes it easier to collect information about your personal finances and make any necessary adjustments. Life happens. Priorities can change. A financial review is a summary of your income, earnings and spending. It clarifies how you allocated your resources throughout the year.
Looking back. Looking ahead.
This is a process, so please give yourself ample time to work through it. Especially if this is your first time. We’ll guide you through each step and offer best practices along the way. Ready?
The first step is gathering information. Determine what data management tool works best for you. Some people still prefer manila file folders, while others prefer using digital storage. Keep it simple, secure and easy for you to access. The goal of this step is to identify every source of money that you received and every place that money ended up. Here’s a list to help you get started.
For a comprehensive cashflow summary, use My Current Cash-flow.
Next, for each item on your list, add the account number and the purpose this specific line item has for you. Include any outstanding balances, interest rates and payoff dates. This information will really help you during the planning phase. Be as thorough as you can. Take your time.
What’s your Financial Health Score?
Complete this short quiz to find out!
Sorting and organizing
As you begin to gather your financial information, think in terms of buckets. For example, one pile could be for accounts that need to be updated. Another pile could be for tax season. Strive to handle each document or account only once. Identify what it is and what action to take next – file, change or eliminate. Anything that no longer serves your goals and financial health, should be eliminated.
It can also be really helpful to review your financial account records one month at a time. Use your calendar or journal to help jog your memory. This could prevent you from leaving out important details since some transactions only happen from time to time.
One great way to organize your finances is based on purpose:
- Manage – day to day money management transactions
- Borrow – strategic debt to improve your financial credit strength
- Save – specific goals that include short, mid and long-term objectives
- Give – from birthday gifts to non-profit donations to your beneficiaries
Schedule a personal retreat
Now that you’ve done the hard work of locating and collecting your financial information for the past year, it’s time for the next step. Block off at least one day before the end of the year for a personal retreat. Choose a place with few distractions and space to reflect. Perhaps you live close to a state park. You could stay at a Bed & Breakfast or Airbnb.
During your retreat, divide your day into three time blocks:
- Review – what were your goals, how did you do and what were your greatest obstacles
- Prioritize – what do you want to accomplish in the coming year, what progress do you want to make, what matters most to you
- Map it Out – define your goals, identify the actions/activities you need to complete, give yourself clear time-frames (what, when, how often) and how you plan to track your progress
Finally, share your goals with a trusted friend. This person can encourage you along the way and celebrate with you. Life can definitely throw a curve-ball and mess up our best-laid plans. Focus on moving towards your dreams and aspirations. Live the best version of your life right now. Laugh. Love. Be.
Did you know that we offer Annual Financial Reviews? We guide you through the process of gathering, sorting, prioritizing and mapping out your financial plans for the year ahead. Schedule a free financial coaching session today to learn more.