By the time you read this, we will all be ensconced in a new year – 2014. The slate of last year’s financial successes or failures will be wiped away to leave a blank slate where you can chart what your money will do over the next 12 months. Many folks end up stumbling around in an attempt to find the right path to success for their funds. Those who read Simple Budget Blog on a regular basis should be able to avoid this predicament through the simple process of planning ahead and creating a copious amount of lists. What type of lists are we talking about? Read ahead to find out the itemized documents that are a necessity to make your year a successful and profitable one.
Debt List — We’ve mentioned it before on this site; nevertheless, the creation of a debt list is imperative in order to determine what sum is owed to the various creditors in your life. Start by looking at all of your credit card statements, student loan invoices, and medical bills. Either by hand or through a program like Word or Excel, write down the smallest debt first, then follow it with the next largest. Continue until all debts are listed smallest to largest. A program like Excel can help you keep track of the total sum of debt, giving you a sense of what you need to address in the new year. The challenge is to get through as many of these debt payoffs over the next 12 months so your list looks much different by the time the next December 31 rolls around.
Purchase List — There were plenty of things in the previous year that you never got around to buying. Could be as small as a pair of salad tongs or as large as a new bedroom set. Make sure these items get considered in the new year by adding them to a purchase list. In my household, we broke down the purchases per room and family member and further drilled it down to small, medium, and large items. For example, the dreaded salad tongs and always-disappearing oven mitts were added to the small items section for the kitchen while a replacement stove and dishwater got placed in the large items. In addition to household items, put together a list of parts and repairs needed for your vehicles. For example, you may want to add car registrations, air filter replacements, and repairs for known problems in order not to forget them.
Project List — Many of the items on your project list will coincide with details you enter into your purchase list. For this list, include projects you know need completion in the new year and those you’d like to accomplish but may have to postpone due to cost or other factor. The line items not completed can be transferred over to the next year’s list to keep them visible.