Tips for Conducting an Annual Financial Review

A belated tax season is officially over. Now that you have a better view of your income and expenses over the past year, now is the perfect time to conduct an annual review of your finances. Here are a few tips to help you organize and manage your money for the coming year.

Organize your physical and digital files

Start by taking all your tax and other financial documents (whether digital or physical) and organize them into an easy-to-find financial system. That might mean filing them neatly away in a cabinet. And it might mean backing up your digital docs in a safe online or at-home electronic storage. But don’t just put them away. Take time to really examine your financial documents and look for trends.

Studying your current financial picture can set you up for success for the coming year. Have your energy bills increased since last year? How much interest are you paying on your mortgage? Is it time to consider a refinance or cut costs somewhere else to save money? Maybe you’re not satisfied with your tax refund and need to reevaluate your withholdings. Now is the time to take a close look at the past financial year and make changes where necessary.

Evaluate your budget categories

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your budget, allocate some time to see how well you’ve been living within your budget. Compare your actual spending with how you planned to spend your money for each category. If your income has increased or decreased since your last budget overhaul, make changes to your spending categories to ensure you keep living within your income.

Now is also the perfect time to examine your budget categories. Are you overspending or underspending in certain areas? Maybe you’ve already saved up for a specific purchase or you’ve paid off a loan or reduced a debt. Clean out your categories and start fresh for a new year, based on information from the past year and brand-new expenses for the coming year.

Take inventory of your online information

Review (and consider changing) passwords at sites that contain your personal and financial information. Review your online bank settings, and update alerts for payments and other reminders. Evaluate automatic bill payments and change any recurring payments that use soon-to-expire credit or debit cards.

Now is also a good time to review your credit card rewards. Use up any unused points, and make a plan to more efficiently spend of your rewards for the coming year. While you’re at it, review your Venmo account and other person-to-person payment accounts just to make sure everything is current and nothing looks out of the ordinary. Finally, review your credit report, make sure you’re aware of your score, and check for suspicious entries. If you want help with a financial analysis and review, Utah First can go over your income, expenses, and credit report with you, and help you make a plan to improve your finances.

An annual financial review can help save you money, keep you aware of your current financial standing, and set you up for financial success for the coming year.

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