Make 2013 your best money year ever with this simple 5 step list

2013 is almost here and it is time to think about your finances for the new year and how to ensure they are in their best shape ever. With these simple steps and checklist, you can make it your best year ever. Most of these are things we have talked about extensively in the past, but we now put it in one clear unified list:

1-Start saving money: don’t delay! You have to start this from Day 1 and not miss a day. If you don’t already have a savings account, ensure you open one immediately to take advantage of the compound interested. If you live in Canada, ensure it is a TFSA account, which allows you to save up to $5,500 a year, with all interest earned being tax free.  And speaking of saving money, ensure you pay yourself first when getting paid at work.And last but not least, don’t forget to open up and contribute to an RRSP (or other retirement saving programs) which will help with your retirement as well as for tax sheltering purposes.

2-Have a Piggy Bank: yes, a piggy bank or any jar where you can save your coins and even bills. You may be asking yourself why you need a piggy bank if you already have a real saving account at the bank? Well, as per our previous advise , the more sources of savings you have, the more money you will accumulate. It is as simple as that. So having a piggy bank, in addition to your real saving account, will help you save more money. Throw in any spare change you don’t need in there. In fact, occasionally, you will have $5 or $10 bills that you don’t need to spend, why not throw these in there too? On Dec 31 or so of 2013, you get to open the jar and enjoy all this money for a vacation, a big purchase or just add it to your bank savings.

3-Review all your bills and subscriptions: go over all your monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly and other subscriptions you pay for on a regular basis.  This includes your home and auto insurance. See what can you downgrade (cable TV?) or even cancel (newspaper delivery?) Chances are, there will be things that you no longer need and can cancel. This will save you money monthly.  Since it is a new year, you want to start fresh with everything and this would be the ideal time to do this.

4-Review your budget: related to the previous step, go over your budget and review it in full. Is there anything that needs to change? Is there any item that can be downgraded, with the resulting money going towards your savings? If you can manage to find even $10 of saving a month from your budget, you have done a good job!

5-Think about your taxes for the new year: if your work situation was such that you had to pay back to the government when filing your income tax last year, you need to do something about it this year. Instead of paying the government more than you already have, why not take some steps to ensure you don’t or even get something back? While the scope of this article can’t cover what does or doesn’t qualify as an income-tax eligible expense, there are some basic ones that should be on everyone’s list. These include RRSPs, charitable donations, medical expenses etc. Ensure you have all of these in one envelope and label them with the appropriate year (2012, 2013 etc.) When income tax filing season is here, you will be ready.

Following the above steps will ensure you stay afloat financially in 2013 and have money to save, spend and enjoy.

Start planning now while you still have some hours left in 2012!