Stay focused on your finances with March’s financial checklist
In this post, I’ll give you 5 helpful tasks to keep you on track with your personal finances.
It’s been a year since Coronavirus Hell came to town. Thanks to decreasing cases and new vaccines, the world is finally (and slowly) moving back towards the normalcy we all knew pre-pandemic. Although there are still many unknowns out of our control, there is hope on the horizon.
If you’re like most, your money situation has experienced some degree of instability over the last 12 months. Maybe you’ve been under a lot of stress just worrying about your future. This is understandable, but it’s not helpful.
I encourage you to focus on what you *can* control – your thoughts, feelings, and actions – and use your energy on those things that are productive and get you closer to your goals.
Don’t lose sight of your big vision. Take small steps that continue to move your forward. Because, eventually, we’ll all be on the other side of this valley. There is a mountaintop just ahead. I promise.
Use this March financial checklist to help you stay focused (or get refocused) on smart money management. And, as you review your goals, remember why you made them. The whole world has been flipped upside down for the last year, but I bet your values haven’t changed. Pandemics will come and go, but what’s truly meaningful to you will outlast any adversity.
So, if you’ve gotten off track, get back to the habits that help you build the future you want. Be intentional with taking actions that align with your values. And choose those thoughts that empower you to overcome your current circumstances.
I’ve listed 5 tasks below you can take this month to support your financial goals. If you want more ideas, check out all of the monthly financial checklists offered here on Finance Over Fifty.
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1. Prepare your taxes
Just like 2020, the IRS is graciously giving us extra time to file our tax returns. Except, this year, it’s only a month.
You have until May 17th to file your taxes. This means you won’t pay any penalties or interest on a tax balance, as long as you pay by this date.
If you haven’t filed yet, don’t forget to claim your Recovery Rebate Credit if you didn’t receive both of the stimulus checks from 2020 (as long as you were eligible to receive them). This includes the $1,200 stimulus from the spring and the $600 checks sent out in January.
Also, if you accepted any unemployment income during 2020, you’ll get a tax break on the first $10,200 of that income (as long as your AGI was under $150k). This also applies to any unemployment income your spouse received, so that means the full benefit for a married couple would be $20,400 of tax-free unemployment income.
If you have already filed, the IRS is now saying that amended returns should *not* be necessary. Instead, they plan on issuing refunds automatically for anybody who is eligible for one.
For the latest updates, visit the IRS page Coronavirus Tax Relief page.
2. Review your insurance coverage
Monsoon season starts in July here in Denver. A few years back there were some damaging floods around the city and everybody started talking about flood insurance. We never had to consider flooding when we lived in Vegas, so this was a new thing for us.
I found out that most standard policies don’t automatically include flood insurance – so if you want it, you may need to ask for it. Check your homeowner’s policy now so you’ll be prepared when you need it. And be aware that there can be a 30-day window before it goes into effect.
3. Get your contributions in
If you have a traditional IRA, then you probably know that you can deduct qualified contributions from your taxable income, which reduces your overall tax bill. In fact, the contributions you make up until April 15 will count toward your 2020 federal income taxes.
If you’re younger than 50, then your 2020 limit is $6,000 for the year. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute up to $7,000.
April 15th is also the contribution deadline for a 2020 health savings account (HSA). Limits depend on your age and coverage, so check with your health insurance company to confirm the maximum amount you can contribute.
4. Prepare a summer spending plan
It feels like the year just started and summer is so far away, but it will be here before you know it!
Create a summer calendar by marking all the dates for vacation, special outings, birthdays, weddings, and other planned events. This will not only help you plan for a fun and full summer, but you’ll also have a visual of what you need to budget for.
Other things you’ll need to consider in the summer months are a higher water bill and electric bill (ugh), and spending more on groceries and gas.
Now is the time to think of how you’ll budget for summer so you’ll be ready for those extra expenses!
5. Review your 2021 financial goals
Well, it’s been two months since you made all those resolutions. How’s it working for you?
Are you on track, or have you lost your motivation?
It’s not too late to pull out that list of goals you had written down in that flurry of inspiration and get back to it!
If you’ve lost some steam, make a vision board and put it up where you’ll pass by it every day. Or share your goals with a trusted friend who will hold you accountable.
If you’re still plugging away, now’s the time to review your progress. Is what you’re doing making a positive difference? Can you measure your progress? What needs to be adjusted? Is your budget working for you?
Don’t feel like you have to stick with your original plan. If you feel stuck or you’re just not moving forward fast enough, make some changes and see how it goes. Keep a journal of what’s working and what’s not. Measure your progress and make adjustments when necessary.
Download financial checklists for all 12 months of the year for FREE!
Plan your checklist
So now you have five ways to help strengthen your finances this month. Maybe you can think of more, but I find that I need to keep my checklists short, or else I blow them off too easily.
Now you just have to do them. So be intentional about planning your checklist. Write these tasks in your planner or calendar, and dedicate time to actually getting them done.
Just remember, it’s never too late to start working towards your goals. And, if the last year has really done a number on your motivation, now’s the time to recommit and start taking consistent action.
The important thing is to keep moving forward, one step at a time, towards financial freedom!