We’re almost into April already! Tax day is nearing and spring is here, but it’s never too late to get started on your financial goals.
If you need a little extra direction, I’ve put together this financial checklist for April. Choose one or two or all five items to keep you on track towards financial freedom.
1. File Your Tax Return
This is a no brainer since tax day is April 15th.
If you’ve already filed, just walk on by and check out the other tasks on this list.
But if you haven’t, then this is a must-do. You don’t want to pay penalty fees to the IRS for filing your taxes late.
If you’re running behind you can always file an extension up to 6 months, just be aware that you’re still required to pay any taxes owed by April 15th.
2. Make Budget Adjustments
Now that you’ve gotten through the first quarter of the year, you’ll want to review how your budget’s working for you.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself:
- Have you been able to stay within your budget consistently?
- Are there certain categories you frequently overspend in?
- Is your budget system helping you stay on track, or are there things you need to change?
- Are you meeting your financial goals every month?
- Is your spending lining up with your values?
Budgets are always a work in process because our spending varies and our goals change.
Be sure to adjust your budget accordingly so you’re staying on track.
3. Organize & Shred
We have a 5-drawer file cabinet in my husband’s office. Every drawer is crammed full with hanging files and folders of documents.
The other day I was looking for something in the cabinet and noticed I still have files for automobiles we haven’t owned in over a decade.
I think it’s time for a file purge.
It’s crucial to have your important documents organized and kept in a safe location. Get rid of outdated folders and keep the really important stuff in a fireproof safe (passports, birth certificates, your will, etc.).
Once you’ve done a full purge, make sure you take all documents with confidential information to get shredded. If you don’t have your own shredder, there are companies that will do this for you for a fee. The other alternative is to burn them in your fireplace (this could be more fun and dual purpose because you can roast marshmallows at the same time).
4. Plan For Next Year’s Taxes
It’s quite possible that this year’s tax return will result in a lower refund than last year, or even some amount owed.
I was so looking forward to a nice, fat return like last year but was shocked (and bummed) that I actually had to pay a couple grand.
With the all the new changes in the 2018 tax code, you will want to review your withholding to make sure you’re not stuck with a huge tax bill next year.
Also, look over your money habits and see what you might be able to do to lower your taxes for this year.
Being efficient with your taxes takes some planning ahead, but it’s worth it.
5. Shop Seasonal Sales
April is a great month for finding great deals, as retailers prepare for the summer season.
- Look through the discount racks at your favorite clothing store to find spring clothing lines being thinned out.
- Lots of people are getting the spring cleaning bug, which means the thrifts stores will have lots of new goodies to search through.
- Along with getting rid of old stuff, people will be doing a deep clean of their homes. This means good deals on products like vacuums and home cleaning supplies.
- Be sure to get your mom a gift this month, because retailers will take advantage of “last minute” shoppers in May and raise their prices.
- Hopefully the snow is fading into a distant memory by the end of April, so keep an eye out for discounts on snow removal equipment. You’ll probably find snow blowers and shovels at good prices.
- Spring is in the air and summer is around the corner – this means wedding season is upon us. If you know you’ll need a gift for someone, start looking now. Stores will offer better prices on cookware this month to entice their customers to start their gift shopping now.
- Stock up on Easter candy, baskets, decorations and dresses after the holiday, when these items will go on clearance.
Plan Your Checklist
Staying on track towards financial freedom takes planning and intention. It’s not enough to write down a list in a notebook, where you’ll find it 4 months from now while you’re on the phone looking for a piece of scrap paper.
To-do lists are for doing. So be sure to write them down somewhere that will motivate you to get them done.
Add them to your calendar, tack them up on the kitchen bulletin board, or put them as reminders on your phone.
It doesn’t matter how small the task is, as long as it keeps you moving forward then it’s worth doing.