6 Money Questions to Ask Yourself in the New Year

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Whether it’s paying off your loans, getting more sleep, or really making it to the gym three days a week, the new year is a great time to take a moment to check in on your health and finances and make concrete plans to help you achieve your goals this year. Here are six questions that can help set you up for success in the new year.

1. Have I revisited my personal budget?

Having a budget can help you set and reach financial goals, and it’s a good idea to review yours every year. Have there been any big changes in your life since last year? Maybe you had another child, got a salary bump or you’re paying more rent. 

Before you set your budget, track your spending for a few weeks to see where your money is going and look at how your expenses shake out in terms of what’s essential and what could be trimmed or eliminated.

Then, think about your financial goals for the year. It might be saving for a vacation or finding extra money to contribute to a retirement account. If you’re looking for things to cut back on, some categories to consider may include dining out, entertainment or subscriptions you’re no longer using. 

2. Did I file all of my flexible spending claims? 

If you contribute to a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, you may need to file a claim to get reimbursed for eligible expenses that you pay for out of pocket.  You can reach out to your insurance provider for more information.   

There are different FSAs: 

  • Health FSAs allow you to use pre-tax money for eligible medical expenses not covered by insurance. 
  • Dependent Care FSA is an FSA that lets you use pre-tax money for care-provider expenses for children (such as day care, nanny, or after school programs). Eligible expenses may vary, so check yours to see what’s covered. 

Even if the plan year has ended, you may be able to file claims for the year that just ended. Check your account details for filing deadlines and to see if there’s a grace period that will give you more time. 

3. Have I started to plan for tax season? 

If you have an accountant or financial advisor, set a date to talk tax strategy. If you don’t have one, you may want to consider whether hiring one makes sense.

Working with a tax professional can be helpful when taxes get complicated. For example, if you own property, it can be tricky to figure out what kind of deductions you might be entitled to. Or you may have a side hustle and could be entitled to write-offs you’re not aware of. 

Check out our Tax Season Guide for important tax dates and numbers to know. 

4. Have I planned out my vacation days?

If you work for a company that offers paid time off (PTO), your vacation days are part of your compensation.  And if you don’t take them, you’re basically letting them go to waste. 

So plan ahead for how you’re going to use your PTO in the new year. (You work hard and deserve some self-care!)

If you’re self-employed, it may be trickier to take time off – sometimes it’s easy for work to bleed into personal time. But if you plan out your vacation ahead of time, you may be more likely to take time off and get that mental recharge.

5. Is my estate plan in order?

If you own investments, retirement accounts, property or any personal possessions that mean something to you, it’s a good idea to have an estate plan. 

Putting together a will, for example, is one option, which in addition to divvying up property, can also specify who should care for your loved ones or other dependents in the event of your death. 

A living trust may be another option to think about. Consult an attorney to see which is right for you, as well as how often they should be updated. 

You can also check out our articles “Things to Consider When Making a Will” and “Estate Planning 101” to learn more. 

6. Have I unsubscribed from unwanted email lists? 

How many junk emails are you deleting every day? Probably too many. Unsubscribing from all unnecessary email lists allows you to head into the new year with less clutter. If the thought of manually unsubscribing from dozens of emails makes you cringe, you may want to consider using an email unsubscription service to help declutter your inbox. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Individuals should consult their own tax advisor for matters specific to their own taxes and nothing communicated to you herein should be considered tax advice. This article was prepared by and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs, but does not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or division. Goldman Sachs Bank USA does not provide any financial, economic, legal, accounting, tax or other recommendation in this article. Information and opinions expressed in this article are as of the date of this material only and subject to change without notice.  Information contained in this article does not constitute the provision of investment advice by Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any its affiliates. Neither Goldman Sachs Bank USA nor any of its affiliates makes any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in this document and any liability therefore is expressly disclaimed.