It is nearing the end of another year, but don't let the holiday season whisk you away from your fiscal responsibilities. These are some of the smart money moves you can make before the year closes off to ensure you'll be in good shape for the New Year, and to close off the old with a smile. (You don't need a degree to understand your money, begin saving and pay down debt. See Top 5 Budgeting Questions Answered.)

IN PICTURES: 8 Easy Ways To Slash Your Holiday Budget

Get Organized
Ideally, you've kept your tax receipts organized as the year's progressed, but if you suddenly find you have a shoe box full of receipts, now is the time to get it organized before tax season hits. You'll probably be too busy and frazzled in the New Year to give this the proper attention, so you might as well get it done now.

Label envelopes by their deductible expense categories and the date of the tax year, and start sorting your receipts into them. If you're ambitious, tally up the amounts in each category and write it on the front of the envelope for easy access.

Next, keep your other relevant tax statements set aside into another envelope labeled with the tax year, and bundle everything together. Don't forget to also pull out your tax information and statements for last year because you'll more than likely need some information of what you deferred from the previous year such as charitable donations or other claims.

As you go along, make notes about the tax year such as your estimated income and other things you'll need from your bank or company before filing.

Review Your Financial Status
Make a list of your financial assets, estate holdings and insurance policies, and update your beneficiaries on all of the accounts. Review and revise as needed with the future in mind by re-balancing or diversifying; these are decisions that should get an in-depth review at least once a year, although keeping tabs on a monthly basis is best.

Take time to go through these statements with your partner so they or you are fully aware of what the situation is and where all the documents are kept. If you have the information, doing a family review of your total income, expenses and net worth at year-end might be helpful for planning or revising the budget for the new year. (Don't let these excuses prevent you from reaching your financial goals. Check out Debunking 10 Budget Myths.)

Spend as Required
Research available deductions for the year to find additional deductions that you may not be aware of.

Other spending might include:

  • Giving cash gifts to reduce your estate's value up to the maximum limit
  • Investing more into your retirement accounts for those tax deductions
  • Spend your medical allowances if they can't be carried over to the next year or will expire
  • Take off any extra vacation days if you can't carry them over to the next year or if they'll be written off.

Create an Emergency Document
In case of an emergency, it's always a good idea to have an overview document of everything you or your family might need in case something happens. Most people don't tend to talk about these important pieces of information on a daily basis (if at all) until it's too late. You could start with the following:

Personal Information

Important Statements and their Location

  • Financial assets and their banks (retirement, bank accounts)
  • Wills and trusts
  • Physical assets (property deeds, automobile registrations)
  • Insurance policies
  • Certificates (birth, marriage, other)

In addition to the above, giving any online information such as banking passwords and account numbers is recommended just in case a trusted family member needs to take over your daily affairs in the interim.

IN PICTURES: 20 Lazy Ways To Save Money

The Bottom Line
Keep in mind that not all of the information above may be applicable to you.

Everyone's situation is unique, and these are general tips to get you thinking about what you or your family might need. If you've been diligent on updating your situation as the year progressed, you may not need to do very much except drink that glass of eggnog, sit back and relax, but if you haven't done any of the above, then perhaps 'tis the season to get your financial situation organized and on track so the next year will be a piece of cake. (Not everyone is cut out for online or heavily-involved budgeting. Read 3 Alternative Budgeting Styles: Which One Suits You?)

Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: GM's Dramatic Return.

Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    5 Ways to Lower Life Insurance Premiums

    Learn several effective methods for lowering life insurance premiums. These include quitting smoking and considering term life insurance.
  2. Budgeting

    The 7 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt

    Obtain information on how to put together and execute a plan to get out of debt, including the various steps and methods people use to become debt-free.
  3. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  4. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  5. Home & Auto

    Looking To Invest In Home Improvements?

    Some home improvement projects could cost you more to complete than they’ll pay out in equity. So, here we show you the worst projects to avoid.
  6. Fundamental Analysis

    Understanding the Internal Rate of Return Rule

    The internal rate of return rule is a popular method used to compare investments or projects.
  7. Home & Auto

    Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value

    If you’re wondering whether home inspection is worth the investment, the following information will help you decide.
  8. Budgeting

    How to Defray Long-Term Care Expenses

    Here's a handful of options on what you can do to defray long-term care expenses.
  9. Budgeting

    The True Cost of Home Caregiving

    Caring for eldery family in-home might be unavoidable, but most caregivers don't realize the true cost of doing so.
  10. Budgeting

    Is Level Money the Perfect Budgeting Tool?

    Here’s a detailed review of how Level Money works and whether it could be the perfect tool to help you budget.
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. Debt Consolidation

    The act of combining several loans or liabilities into one loan. ...
  3. Personal Spending Plan

    Similar to a budget, a personal spending plan helps outline where ...
  4. Fudget

    A falsified statement of income and expenses. A fudget or "fudget ...
  5. Capital Project

    A long-term investment made in order to build upon, add or improve ...
  6. Haggle

    When two parties involved in the purchase of a good and service ...
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How much risk is associated with subprime mortgages?

    A large amount of risk is associated with subprime mortgages. Since the mortgages are specifically for people who do not ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!