January is almost over, and if you are like many families, you are looking back at your New Year’s Resolutions to see how you are doing. If you didn’t succeed at meeting your resolutions – don’t despair. February is a new month, and you still have lots of time to get on the right track.
Here are 5 Things to Do for Your Family Finances in February.
1- Opt out
Here’s an easy thing that you can do that will not only help protect your identity, it’ll also remove clutter from your home. Remove your name from all of the prescreened credit card and insurance offers. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com to opt-out of offers for five years (online), or permanently (by filling out a form and mailing it in). While you may occasionally receive some pre-approved offers, they will be from companies that you’ve already done business with.
2 – Organize tax docs
It’s tax season, and all companies should have mailed your forms by 1/31, so you’ll be getting lots of paperwork this week. Get organized for tax season by pulling together all of your documents in one place. Create a list of every single form you are waiting on, and then check off each item as you get it. Keep in mind that many companies will send your documents electronically, so you’ll need to login and print them out.
3- Set up Mint.com
It’s difficult to know how you are doing without having a clear picture of your current financial picture. I like using Mint.com, which is a free website that will help you see your financial situation. It does take some time to set up at all of your accounts, but once they are set up, you can see exactly how much you have an how much you owe. You can see where you are spending your money, and can get alerts so you know when your expenses are higher than average.
4 – Create a budget
If you haven’t yet created or updated your family budget in a while, now is a great time to do it. Take a look at your expenses from the last year to see where your money has been going, and then use that as a baseline for your budget. Don’t forget to include more “seasonal” type items, like car maintenance and holiday gifts.
5 – Have a family finance meeting
Regardless of how much research and planning you do, your budgeting and savings plans cannot succeed unless both you and your spouse are on the same page about your finances. If you don’t share the same goals, then it’s almost impossible to meet them. While you may feel that you do share the same goals, have these important conversations now. Here’s some guidance on how you can do this.