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We are all doing it at our offices.  It’s time to make sure that when we leave today or tomorrow there is nothing pressing on our desk and no evil surprises to walked back into.  For some reason, though, most of us never remember to close out our personal financial year.  It is so important to follow a few small steps, so that when January 1st rolls around, we are ready to start fresh and none of those evil surprises are found lurking in corners.
1.     Review you financial standing and how it’s changed over the last year.  Make a note of babies, houses bought, and savings accrued.  Acknowledge the areas you fell short in.  Did you not meet your savings goals?  Did you not get the loans paid off?

2.     Set new goals for the next year.  It is important to always have financial goals.  Without them, you can never get ahead.  So after you have looked over the past year, make some predictions as to where you want to go.

3.     Get prepared for tax time.  Make sure you have all your receipts together in a box or envelope somewhere.  Decide whether you are itemizing or taking the standard deduction.

4.     Check on your bonus.  If you had a really good year and expect next year to be not so good, ask for your bonus to arrive on Jan 1st instead of Dec 31st.  This will offset some of your revenue.

5.     Retirement.  If you are in a strong position financially, try to max out your retirement plans by Dec 31st.  This way you can lower your taxable income.

6.     Check your donations. If you haven’t donated and you plan on itemizing, it may be time to look around.

7.     Cash gifts.  If you plan on giving a cash gift, you might want to do it early.  You can give up to $13,000 for one person. 

In total, make sure you close out this year in a strong position and don’t leave yourself open to Uncle Sam.

Anna Domzalski is a staff writer for the Financial Bin. Anna will soon begin her role as Dean of Financial Bin University and will conduct online budgeting classes beginning in February 2012. She can be reached via email at [email protected].

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