(This is a guest post by David Bakke from Money Crashers Personal Finance)
As the end of the year draws closer, it is important that you and your partner set aside some time for financial planning. This can be difficult in the midst of all the holiday cheer, but it is definitely worth your while. 2013 could very well present a number of financial challenges, especially with all of the uncertainty in Washington at the moment. However, if you take the time to plan, you’ll be sure to weather any fiscal storm that may be brewing.
1. Have the Money Talk
Discussing finances with your partner can be difficult. Nevertheless, it’s an important step in maintaining a healthy financial picture and stop fighting about money with your spouse. Schedule some uninterrupted time to speak about the topic in depth. The particulars of your discussion are up to you, but some of the general topics to discuss include ways to reduce spending and planning for the future, whether it be retirement savings or setting up an emergency fund.
2. Jointly Pay Down Credit Card Debt
Paying down credit card debt is always a good idea, but you’ll struggle unless both you and your partner are committed. Set spending limits if you must, and make sure that you both know where you stand and how much debt you need to eliminate. Come up with a strategy to begin paying down these debts, with the ultimate goal of eventually ridding yourselves of them entirely.
3. Review Your Retirement Portfolio
If you’re currently not saving for retirement, now is the time to start. If you already have a portfolio set up, plan to review it at least once this year. Check to see how your investments are doing, and get rid of the ones that are under-performing. Make sure your portfolio has a healthy balance of stocks, bonds, cash, and international investments.
4. Create a Budget
Creating a budget is a great idea to keep costs in line – just make sure you both agree on it. You should both have equal input on how much you can afford to spend each month. Otherwise, you may end up with an argument and hurt feelings if there’s an overspending spouse.
5. Reduce and Organize Your Monthly Bills
Set aside a half-day or so and review all of your recent billing statements. Search for hidden fees, and contact your provider to get them eliminated. Research the competition for your cable, Internet, and cell phone needs to see if you can save money by switching, and consider bundling your services to potentially save even more. Check out your insurance and investment documents to make sure all beneficiary information is up to date, and consider implementing a filing system for your finances. This could help to make filing taxes next year much easier.
If you don’t have a solid plan to reach your financial goals, you’re sure to fall short. Therefore, record your goals in writing, and plan to review them a few times throughout the year. Make sure they’re realistic so that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Finally, reward yourself when you succeed to ensure that you stay motivated all year long.
What financial resolutions do you plan to achieve next year?
– David Bakke is a contributor for the blog, Money Crashers Personal Finance. After being married and then divorced, he now shares his insights on how couples can better manage their finances – and their relationship.
Photo by AngeloGonzallez