New finances for a new year

Plan_A_and_B

2013 is a new year, and with it comes financial change. While your financial plan might not need a fresh start in 2013, reviewing your finances will help determine if any adjustments are needed.

Review what you know

What do you need to financially plan for this year that you didn’t last year? Are you celebrating a milestone birthday? Planning to make a large donation? Will there be a new driver in the family that will require changes to insurance – or possibly a new car? Are you planning a long trip? With each event like these in 2013, your budget for 2012 becomes less and less applicable.

Also, compare your first pay stub in 2013 to your last stub of 2012. Is your gross pay any different? End-of-year raises; a change in benefits, deductions, or withholdings; and higher taxes can affect how much money you bring home each pay period. If your 2013 paycheck is significantly different than your 2012 paycheck, it’s likely your 2013 budget will need to be significantly different than your 2012 budget. 

Research what you don’t know

The new year might bring changes to your financial accounts. For example: the IRA contribution limit for 2013 is $5,500 – up $500 from 2012. Similarly, the limit for 401(k)s is up $500 from 2012 as well, now at $17,500 (the catch-up contribution for people over 50 is unchanged: $1,000 for IRAs and $5,500 for 401(k)s). Make a list of your financial accounts and consider talking with a tax and/or a financial advisor about each one to find out if there are any important changes you need to be aware of.

Don’t forget about the American Tax Relief Act. While the return to a 6.2 percent payroll tax has been much discussed, many other parts of the deal have been less publicized. Read as much as you can about the Act to find out if anything else included in the deal will affect your finances.

Set your goals for the new year

Even though we’re in a new year, you don’t need to come up with entirely new goals; perhaps your current goals just need adjustments. Maybe your goal in 2012 was to max out your IRA contributions; new expenses might keep you from doing that this year, but you can still make saving for retirement a goal. Of course, brand new goals can be appropriate, too!

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