Finish Strong and Start Smart: A Financial To-Do List for Year’s End and the New Year

As much trouble as people have keeping New Year’s resolutions — an estimated 80 percent of resolutions fail within two months, according to findings by U.S. News & World Report — a better approach to goal-attainment might be to quit making resolutions and instead aim for smaller, more manageable targets.

That smaller-bite approach certainly can help when it comes to achieving personal financial goals. Breaking things down into an itemized checklist of small but significant steps can indeed make those goals more attainable and you less prone to feeling like a failure in pursuit of some grandiose but ultimately unrealistic financial resolution. A checklist of financial to-do’s is particularly important this time of year, when the turning of the calendar from one year to the next provides an opportunity to tie up financial loose ends from the year that was while laying the groundwork for success in the year ahead. And unlike many New Year’s resolutions that require constant diligence, once items on the list are complete, you can check them off and move on to the next.

“Life events, important moments and calendar changes are a great time to stop and reflect on what is important,” says FPA member Sean M. Pearson, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional based in Conshohocken, Pa. “When you are saving and spending on the important things, you’ll feel less financial stress.”

Here, Pearson and a handful of other financial professionals offer suggestions for what to include on an end-of-year/start-of-year personal finance checklist:
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