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   Financial Planning Calendar


Most people are continually seeking to improve their financial lives. To help you do so, we offer this Financial Planning Calendar.
  Each month we present two "Planning Ideas." However, they are not time-sensitive and generally need not be implemented in the month of the recommendation. Therefore, when you are ready to take some financial planning steps, you can review any of these Planning Ideas and implement any that are appropriate when you are ready to move forward.

Financial planning suggestions other than these Planning Ideas are generally related to and best implemented in the particular month in which they are listed (but not necessarily on the stated date). In some cases, the Calendar will indicate that a task must be completed by a particular date (e.g., you must pay real estate taxes not later than 31 to obtain a tax deduction for that year).

NOTE Note: Please refer to our Tax Planning Calendar for tax filing due dates.

Keep in mind that most of the financial planning suggestions, ideas and dates are of general application. They may not apply to your particular situation. Therefore, professional guidance should be sought to help you to determine whether, how and when to implement any of these suggestions.

 

JANUARY

January Planning Idea No. 1: If you haven't already done so, set up a basic filing system for storing your important documents and records.
Related Financial Guide: DOCUMENT LOCATOR SYSTEM: A Handy Aid For Keeping Track Of Your Important Records.

 

January Planning Idea No. 2: If you haven't already done so, prepare a financial plan and a budgeting system for monitoring your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.  The information you collect will enable you to start planning for retirement or other major life events.  Use last year's information to establish a budget for the coming year.
Related Financial Guide: YOUR FINANCIAL PLAN: Getting Started On A Secure Future.
Related Financial Guide: BUDGETING: How To Prepare A Workable Plan.

 

31st Start getting ready for preparing your tax return for the preceding year.  As you receive Forms W-2, 1099 and other tax documents, file them immediately.  This will reduce time looking for them later.

FEBRUARY


February Planning Idea No. 1
: Establish or review your savings plan to begin accumulating assets for your life goals.  Professional guidance will be helpful in reviewing investment alternatives.
February Planning Idea No. 2: Establish or review your retirement plan.  Explore the availability of deferred compensation programs through your employer, such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  Begin contributing as soon as you are eligible.
Related Financial Guide: YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN: How To Get Started.
Related Financial Guide: ANNUITIES: How They Work And When You Should Use Them

 

5th Compare January income and expenditures with your budget.  Make adjustments as appropriate to your February expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for January.
15th Verify that you have received all necessary forms W-2 and 1099 and a statement showing the year-end balance of IRA and Keogh plans.  Contact the appropriate company for any that have not been received.  For those that have been received, make certain that the amounts agree with your records.
20th Gather together all of your tax information.  Although taxes for personal returns are not due until April 15, it is best to get an early start since additional follow-up may be necessary.

MARCH


March Planning Idea No. 1
: If you have young children, review their college planning.  Determine the amount you will need to accumulate by the time they enter college.  Based on this estimate, establish or review your savings plan.  Consider setting up an Education IRA or a regular IRA for your children if they have earned income.
Related FG Related Financial Guide: YOUR CHILD'S COLLEGE EDUCATION: How To Finance It

 

March Planning Idea No. 2: Review your home mortgage.  Are you paying too much interest?  Consider the savings you could obtain by refinancing.  Also look into the possibility of making mortgage payments twice a month or adding some principal to each payment to save on the interest cost.  If you have other debt at higher interest rates, and the interest is non-deductible, consider paying off these debts with a home equity loan.
Related Financial Guide: REFINANCING YOUR MORTGAGE: When and How.
Related Financial Guide: HOME EQUITY LOANS: How To Shop For The One That Is Best For You.

 

5th Compare February income and expenditures with your budget.  Make adjustments as appropriates to your March expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for February.
15th Request a social security numbers for any child who will be one year or older during the year if he or she does not already have one.
15th If you were age 70-1/2 last year, make certain you have taken any required minimum distributions from your retirement plans.  Professional guidance will be helpful here.
31st Total up your taxable income, capital gains and deductions for the first quarter.  This information can be used to plan your estimated tax payments and perhaps reduce any underpayment penalties.

APRIL


April Planning Idea No. 1:
Review your retirement plans.  How much have you accumulated so far?  How much do you need to retire comfortable at the desired date?  Professional advice may be helpful in determining how much you should be saving and what the best investment vehicles are.
Related Financial Guide: YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN: How To Get Started

 

April Planning Idea No. 2: Perform an inventory of your non-financial assets (e.g., home, furniture, cars, personal belongings).  Compare this inventory to your property insurance coverage.  Is your insurance adequate for your assets?  You may need a rider to your policy for certain items such as jewelry.  If some assets are no longer in use, consider selling them or donating them to charity.  You may be entitled to a deduction based upon the fair market value of the assets.
Related Financial Guide: LIFE INSURANCE: How Much and What Kind To Buy.
Related Financial Guide: CAR INSURANCE: 10 Cost-Cutters To Save You Money.
Related Financial Guide: HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE: How To Get The Best Coverage And Value.

 

5th Compare March income and expenditures with your budget.  Make adjustments as appropriate to your April expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for March.
10th Make any contributions for IRAs, SIMPLE Plans, SEPs and Keoghs for the preceding tax year.  Professional advice should be sought to help you determine the maximum amounts deductible.
30th Add the estimated tax payments for the year to your calendar so you don't overlook them later.  You might want to attach the payment vouchers to your calendar with a paperclip.

MAY


May Planning Idea No. 1
: Order a copy of your credit report from one of the major credit reporting agencies.  Read the report carefully and report and discrepancies to the appropriate agencies.  This not only ensures that the records are accurate, but helps prevent others from obtaining credit in your name.
Related Financial Guide: CREDIT REPORTS: What You Should Know--And Do--About Yours.
Related Financial Guide: YOUR CREDIT CARD RIGHTS: What You Should Do If You Have A Problem.

 

May Planning Idea No. 2: If your family status has changed recently--you got married, had a child or became widowed or divorced--consider the important new financial considerations that may now come into play. These might include property ownership, providing for children's welfare, post-mortem planning, and day-to-day finances.
Related Financial Guide: GETTING MARRIED (OR DIVORCED): Some Financial Guidelines.
Related Financial Guide: BECOMING A PARENT: The Financial Considerations.

 

5th Compare April income and expenditures with your budget.  Make adjustments as appropriate to your May expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for April.
10th Based upon the results of your prior year's tax return, make any necessary adjustments to your tax withholding by completing Form W-4 and providing it to your Employer.
31st Total up your taxable income, capital gains and deductions through this date.  Your tax advisor can use this information to plan your estimated tax payments and perhaps reduce any underpayment penalties.

JUNE


June Planning Idea No. 1:
Review your life, health, and disability insurance policies.  (Hopefully, you reviewed your "asset" policies in April.)  Check with your employee benefits office as to what programs are available.  Make certain you have adequate coverage.  Consult with your financial advisor as to the appropriate amounts for your age and income.
Related Financial Guide: LIFE INSURANCE: How Much and What Kind To Buy.
Related Financial Guide: DISABILITY INSURANCE: What To Look For.

 

June Planning Idea No. 2: Review your utility costs for the year.  Make certain you are getting the best possible deal where multiple providers are available.  For example, obtain competitive quotes for long distance phone service.  For other utilities, review your usage to see if any savings are available.  Consider the use of annual "budget" plans with the utilities to even out annual payments.
5th Compare May income and expenditures with your budget.  Make adjustments as appropriate to your June expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for May.

JULY


July Planning Idea No. 1:
Total up your assets, liabilities and face value of insurance policies. If the total of assets plus insurance minus liabilities exceeds $650,000 (1999), $675,000 (2000) you need to begin estate planning, if you haven't already done so. Professional guidance is suggested concerning ways of minimizing estate taxes and probate costs, so that the maximum amount goes to your desired beneficiaries
.

Related Financial Guide: ESTATE PLANNING: How to Get Started.

 

July Planning Idea No. 2: Examine your property tax bills and explore the possibility of challenging the valuation. 
5th Compare June income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your July expenditures.  Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for June.
20th Review your investment performance for the first half of the year. Consider reallocating under-performing or low-yielding assets.

AUGUST


August Planning Idea No. 1:
Review or prepare a "post-mortem" letter to your spouse spelling out the location of your assets and property (assets of a deceased are often lost because a spouse may not be aware of them or know their location), the names of all your advisors, and any other information your spouse should know to minimize his or her burden in the stressful period after your death.
Related Financial Guide: POST-MORTEM LETTER: How To Prepare It and What To Include.
August Planning Idea No. 2: Request a Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement from the Social Security Administration. This can be done using Form SSA-7004 or over the Internet.  (Click here to request statement). This statement summarizes your social security earnings history and provides an estimate of the benefits to which you are entitled. It is important to verify that you have been credited for all of your earnings. You can also use this statement in your retirement planning.
5th Compare July income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your August expenditures. Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for July.
31st Total up your taxable income, capital gains and deductions through this date. This information can be used to plan your estimated tax payments and perhaps reduce any underpayment penalties.

SEPTEMBER


September Planning Idea No. 1:
Update your will and the will of your spouse, if you are married.
Related Financial Guide: ESTATE PLANNING: How to Get Started.
September Planning Idea No. 2: Discuss with your spouse your respective wishes concerning health care and funeral arrangements. These are not pleasant tasks, but it is important that others know your wishes should you be incapacitated. Create a Living Will to document your decisions.
Related Financial Guide: LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE: How To Get The Best Deal.
Related Financial Guide: FUNERALS: What To Do At This Stressful Time.
Related Financial Guide: DEATH OF A SPOUSE: Financial Steps You Can Take.
5th Compare August income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your September expenditures. Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for August.

OCTOBER


October Planning Idea No. 1:
Review the asset allocation of your portfolio. Increases and decreases in its value can upset the asset allocation that you consider optimal. Should you shift some stock investments into bond investments? Should you shift some funds into tax-free investments?
October Planning Idea No. 2: If your employer has a "Flexible Spending Arrangement," determine the balance left in the plan. You may need to incur discretionary medical, dental or optical costs prior to year-end to use up any balance. If you do not participate in such a plan, find out if one is available at your company. Also find out if you are eligible for a "Medical Savings Account."
5th Compare September income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your October expenditures. Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for September.
31st Total up your taxable income, capital gains and deductions through this date. Estimate the amounts expected through year-end. Determine where you stand for the year and what steps, if any, you should take prior to year-end to minimize your tax liability.  Professional guidance will be helpful here.

NOVEMBER


November Planning Idea No. 1:
If your estate planning indicates a potential estate tax liability, consider making gifts before year-end to minimize estate and gift taxes. Example: You can give away about $10,000 a year ($20,000 if you are married and your spouse elects to participate) to each of a number of donees free of gift tax, thereby reducing your estate tax liability.
November Planning Idea No. 2: Check your frequent flier programs for mileage expiring at year-end. If mileage sufficient for an award is going to expire, request an award certificate. You usually have a year from the date of the award to use it. Then, if the award year is about to expire, you can turn it in for a free ticket. You then have still another year to use this ticket. In this way, you usually can get almost a two-year "extension" for mileage that would otherwise expire.
5th Compare October income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your November expenditures. Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for October.
10th Estimate your taxes due for the year and find out what steps you should take in November.

DECEMBER


December Planning Idea No. 1:
Consider making charitable contributions before year-end both to obtain the maximum tax deduction and to fulfill any charitable programs or commitments you may have established.
Related Financial Guide: CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS: How To Give Wisely.
Related Financial Guide: ADVANCED CHARITY TECHNIQUES: Maximizing Your Deductions.
December Planning Idea No. 2: If you need a new car, now is the time to purchase or lease. Frequently, dealers are anxious to clear out last year’s inventory prior to year-end.
Related Financial Guide: YOUR NEXT CAR: Should You Buy or Lease?
5th Compare November income and expenditures with your budget. Make adjustments as appropriate to your expenditures. Make sure you have invested your planned savings amount for November.
10th Examine your current investments to determine those with unrealized losses. Consider selling those investments to take the loss this year. You can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses in excess of capital gains. However, do not let the tax savings outweigh the investment potential. You might consider "swapping" for a similar company in the same industry if you like the potential of the industry.
20th Consider paying tax-deductible expenses prior to year-end. Some common examples are real estate taxes, quarterly state or local income taxes, investment-related expenses, dues. These must be paid by 31 to obtain a deduction this year. Professional guidance will be helpful here.
31st Evaluate your progress for the year. How close were you to your budget? Recalculate your net worth. Compare it to the value at the beginning of the year. How did you do?
 

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