It’s the end of the year!

money in mattress

Image source: iStock ©jmbatt

Do you know where your money is?

December and January are the perfect months to look back at what you earned, saved and spent during the past year. Take some time to get your financial house in order at this time.

How much have you saved?

Whether you just resolved last year to save more, or you set a specific goal, it’s time to find out how you did.

  • Were you able to increase your emergency fund?
  • Were you able to save for a large purchase, or did you just run up the balance on your credit card, thereby increasing your liabilities, and decreasing your net worth?

How did your investments perform?

Review any investment statements you’ve received, compared to general market conditions, and most importantly, in relationship to your expectations and needs.

  • Do you need to make any adjustments based on your own circumstances, your tolerance for risk or because of market conditions?

Did you reduce debt?

Tracking your spending is just as important as tracking your savings, but hard to do when caught up in an endless cycle of paying down your credit cards, and then borrowing more, over and over again. Now is the time to make changes if you are unhappy with last year’s progress.

Where did your employment taxes go?

This year, get in the habit of checking your Social Security statement annually to find out how much you’ve been contributing to the Social Security System, and what future benefits you might expect. To access your statement, sign up for a my Social Security account at the Administration’s website,

Has your financial outlook changed during the last year?

Once you’ve reviewed your account balances and statements, your next step is to look at your entire financial picture.

  • Did your finances improve over the course of the year?
  • If not, why not?

Then, think about the changes you would like to make for next year. Start by considering the following questions:

  • What are your greatest financial concerns?
  • Do you need help or advice in certain areas?
  • Do you need to revise your budget now that you’ve reviewed what you earned, saved and spent?

Use what you’ve learned about your finances—good and bad—to set your course for the next year to improve your financial position.