Start the new year off right!
I look at the new year as an opportunity to start fresh and strong. It’s a time to wipe the slate clean and get some important tasked queued up. I’m an planful person and schedule tasks on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. There are 5 things to do at the beginning of every year to start the new year off right. I left the fun one for the end of the list!
Get your financial house in order
Many people don’t like dealing with financial issues. I’m not one of them. I love that stuff!! Regardless, finances are a critical and important issue and need regular attention. There are two key things you should do to review your financial situation at the beginning of every year.
Review your insurance policies
As much as I love financial topics, I dread the review of my insurance policies. Let’s admit it, it’s boring and tedious. It is an often overlooked topic primarily because most people never need to access their insurance. It’s an abstract concept, something “out there” and “all set”. But, the fact is that a sound insurance plan is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from catastrophic financial damage.
The details don’t matter – until they matter! This couldn’t be more true with insurance. As they say, the devil is in the details.
Read your policy. Review exceptions from coverage and various deductibles. Your policy likely has a deductible and limit for standard losses. It may also have different deductibles and sub-limits for identified exceptions. For example, your homeowner’s policy may cover you for the full value of your home for a covered event with a $1,000 deductible but may include a 30% of value deductible for wind damage – a real example of something an insurer tried to slip into my policy – or a $50,000 limit for mold or fungi.
Consider any renovations you’ve made to your property or expensive items you purchased in the past year that should be listed in your policy.
In addition to your homeowner’s policy, you should also analyze the following where applicable:
- Tenant’s insurance
- Auto insurance
- Personal umbrella (do you have one? should you consider one?)
- Life insurance
You don’t have to be an insurance expert to do the review. Find and hire a good agent who is willing to walk you through your policies and explain the key details. Your agent can also identify new discounts or credits you may be eligible for. If your agent isn’t willing to do this, find a new one!
For more information on an annual insurance review, check out this article from Moneytips.com. It’s a good summary of the process and its benefits.
Review your retirement savings and plan
Another thing to do to start the new year off right is to review your retirement savings. This should be done at least annually, at every age. Consider what you’ve saved vs. what you planned to save. If you’re not where you planned to be, make some decisions about next steps. At plan or ahead? Good for you!!
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers a 401K, 403B, or pension plan, your company likely has an agreement with an advisor who can help you make decisions about your retirement accounts. There are other options if you don’t have access to this type of service. Check out your local council on aging or senior center. Even if you’re not a senior, these organizations frequently host open informational workshops on financial topics including retirement.
Organize your office or desk
I shouldn’t admit it but I love this annual task! I’m not saying I don’t clean my office and desk throughout the year. I do. But the first week in January, I pull it all apart and do a deep dive.
Check your paper files
Open that file cabinet and pull out the folders. Go through each one and toss the useless stuff that you for some reason threw in there during the year. We all do it. Start new folders for the new year and shred information you no longer need to keep.
Setup a record storage timeline for yourself so you know how long to keep things.
Organize your computer files
Cleaning out files isn’t limited to paper manila folders. Your computer is probably worse. You save multiple copies of documents and create folders you don’t need. Take an hour or so and clean up your file structure. Make sure your antivirus software and other tools are up to date. Check out your storage capacity. Consider offloading large items such as photos and videos to an alternative backup source such as cloud based storage on Amazon Photo, Dropbox, or Onedrive.
Do a deep clean
Empty your drawers and organize the contents. Empty out the crumbs, scraps or paper, and misc. staples and broken paperclips. Wipe down the inside, restock in an organized manner, and put it all back together again. Clean your phone, your keyboard, your computer screen. Organize your bulletin board – if you have one. I do 🙂
Take everything off your desk and dust the surfaces. Pull out furniture polish and hit every surface until they shines. Then load it all back up again, neatly.
Take a look around. I bet you can’t help but smile. What a way to start the year!!
Start or update your emergency kit
If you ever doubted the value of an emergency kit, I hope 2020 convinced you. This is a must have item that far too many people go without. When considering things to do at the beginning of the year, this one should be on your list!
What you put into your kit depends on many things. At a minimum you should consider:
- Potential for severe weather
- Possible / likely natural disasters
- Energy outages
- Serious injury
- Temporary separation from your home – what your family will need without you
For a basic list of what your kit should include, read more at Ready.gov.
If you already have a kit, check your batteries and other items that have expiration dates. Refill items that may have been used or damaged over the past year. Update supplies based on new circumstances.
Create on annual photo album
This is the fun one!
The proliferation of smart phones has changed the way we take, store, and share photos. For the most part, the changes are positive. We can take as many pictures as we want and immediatley share them across the globe. The downside of this change is that we’ve moved away from photo albums. For most of us, our pictures end up lost in a massive cloud file somewhere, disorganized and likely never to be seen again.
We promise ourselves that we’re going to go in one day and go through them, pick out the good ones and print them.
But we never do it.
Here’s where the annual photo album comes in!
Instead of letting your photos automatically backup to the great open storage of any cloud server, create an annual folder each year. Adjust your settings at the beginning of January so photos are directed to that folder. Once the year ends, go into that folder and select the ones you want to add to the photo album.
There are dozens of online services that do a great job, at an affordable price. And they make it easy. You simply upload the photos and arrange them. Most services even offer tools that can do preset arrangements using date, time and facial recognition to get your started. Not only is this a good way to start the new year off right, it’s also an opportunity to go through albums from prior years and remind yourself of your wonderful memories.
I try to do this every year. Sometimes, like this year, I have to do catchup and do a couple of years at once. I started doing this over ten years ago and only wish I did it sooner! Now I have gorgeous albums that I love to look back on every January.
I highly recommend you make this a part of your annual plan!!
Start the new year off right!
I’m sure there are many things you could add to your new year’s task list. Make these 5 task part of your annual tradition.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Set a Word of Intention for 2021 Rather Than a Resolution