There’s a good chance you may find yourself with some downtime this week, thanks to office and school closings or a backlog of vacation days. While it’s tempting to spend this time days doing nothing but watching “The Twilight Zone,” your break is a good opportunity to tick some things off your financial to-do list. Here are a few money tasks you can address to set yourself up for success in the new year.
1. Assess the Holiday Shopping Damage
It can be all too easy to get carried away with the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season. But, whether you picked up a few too many last-minute gifts or think you stayed on budget, it’s a good idea to review all of your credit card and debit card statements. Not only will you get a final tally of what the gift-giving season cost (and what you’ll need to pay off in 2016), you’ll have a better shot at spotting fraudulent charges.
2. Check Your Credit
High credit card balances can hurt credit scores, so check to see if yours are in good shape now that shopping season is over. It’s also in your best interest to keep on top of your credit since scores and/or reports are used by lenders, landlords, employers and many other companies. They also can signal whether your identity has been stolen. (You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or view your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Knowing where you stand could help you boost your financial well-being in 2016.
3. Set Your Budget
A budget can be a great tool for paying down debt, saving for retirement and keeping all your financial ducks in a row. If you haven’t set yours yet, this week is a great time to do so. If you already have a budget, review each line item before January. You may want to check that you accounted correctly for any credit card debt you’ll have to pay off. And you may identify places to save or expenses worth cutting (like that daily latte or weekly pedicure).
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