12 Financial Health Tips for 2023: A Month-by-Month Guide

January 26, 2023
12 Financial Health Tips for 2023: A Month-by-Month Guide

If you resolved to achieving greater financial health this year, this guide is for you. Whether you’re saving for a large purchase, paying down credit card debt, creating a better budget, or simply trying to spend less than you earn, moving forward with your money goals requires regular commitment and organization. To help you get there, we’ve gathered month-by-month financial health tips you can use to plan ahead or put into action immediately.

Personal Finance Tips for Every Month of the Year

One of the keys to reaching your money goals is taking consistent action over time. Here’s our month-by-month tips guide to help you keep your financial health in mind all year long:

January: Score your financial health.

The first month of the year is a great time for evaluating your financial picture in general. It’s also a good time to decide what big goals you want to set and any changes you want to make in the year ahead. However, understanding where you’re at financially (and where you could go) is not always easy to do on your own.

Start by scoring your personal financial wellbeing with this brief survey from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Compare your score by age, household income, and employment status, and discover steps you can take to improve your financial health.

February: Plan a money date.

February is the perfect month to plan a money date with your significant other (or with yourself if you’re single) to think about your finances. Understanding your existing debts, current and potential income, as well as spending and saving habits will ensure you’re both on the same page as the year progresses. You can also spend this month reviewing your budget or building one together the easy way. Consider your financial values (individually, and as a couple) and discuss how you’ll approach long-term goals such as saving up for your or your child’s education, or planning for retirement.

March: File your taxes for free.

Almost three-quarters of all US taxpayers (with AGI $73,000 or less) are eligible to use the IRS Free File software and e-file for free with both the federal government and some states. So if you haven’t filed your taxes yet and aren’t already using a tax organizing software, gather your documents for your income and deductions (W2s, 1099s, child support payments, etc) and other financial records from the past year all in one place. Then make sure you’re up to date with 2023 tax law changes in your state.

The IRS offers information about how to file for free and how to receive volunteer tax preparation support if you need it. If you earn too much to be eligible to use the free software, you can still complete your federal returns online. There’s even a mobile app, IRS2Go.

April: Use your tax return to build savings.

The average federal tax refund last year was $3,176. If you think you’ll get money back this year, start strategizing what you’ll do with the money. Whether you’re funding your emergency savings, paying down debt, or doing something else, planning ahead can ensure you put your tax refund dollars to the best use.
April is also a good month to review your personal loan tax strategies for the year ahead. Did you miss any deductions due to missing receipts? Did you incur penalties because you didn’t take minimum distributions from retirement savings accounts? Invest some energy into creating a better system—your future self will thank you.

May: Give your credit extra protection.

Identity thieves and scammers are getting more difficult to outsmart every day. If you’re not planning on applying for credit anytime soon, consider freezing your credit files with all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) to protect yourself against someone opening a fraudulent loan or credit card in your name. Even though they have no credit history, scammers actively target kids online to try to capture their personal information as well. You may want to consider placing a security freeze on your children’s credit files as well. All of the major credit reporting agencies offer this service.

Keep in mind that your kids can be a gateway to criminals accessing your personal information. Scammers are always looking for new ways to obtain your name, address, driver’s license and social security numbers, and any other private data they can get their hands on. So it’s always a good idea to remain aware of your child’s activities online and how you could become exposed through their behaviors.

June: Make smart home improvements to increase value.

If you’re thinking about moving out of town or downsizing your family home in the near future, making smart home improvements now can boost its value, maximizing the return on your investment. To avoid taking on any new debt, look for ways to pay for improvements using cash you’ve saved for this purpose. Otherwise, consider using a personal loan for home improvement with fixed payments that fit comfortably into your budget.

July: Check in on (or start planning for) your retirement.

Mid-year is a good time to look in on your retirement accounts. Review your 401(k) or IRA account investments with a financial advisor to ensure you’re set up for success. If you’re not maximizing your contributions, reevaluate your budget to see what you can do to contribute more. If your employer offers a company match, be sure you’re contributing at least enough to capture the match. Depending on your adjusted gross income, your IRA contributions could be tax deductible, which could reduce your tax burden.

August: Get education on the radar.

If you have young kids heading back to school this month, you may have planning ahead for their college expenses on your mind as well. A 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged account you can use to pay for educational expenses from kindergarten through graduate school. Earnings can grow federally tax-deferred and are generally not subject to state tax. Withdrawals are also tax free when the money is used for qualified educational expenses. If your child doesn’t need the funds you can change the beneficiary to another family or, starting in January 2024, you can roll funds into a Roth IRA if you meet the requirements.

If you’re feeling behind on college savings, it’s not too late to start. Even if you’re short on time, there are other ways to help cover the cost of an education. Consider student loans carefully and be sure your student doesn’t go this route alone without proper guidance. Openly discussing college costs at the family dinner table and clarifying responsibilities and expectations for funding (or financing) your child’s education from the start is good practice.

September: Consider refinancing your existing auto loan.

If you have an auto loan and your vehicle is under 10 years old, try plugging the numbers into an auto refinance calculator to see how much you could save. You might be able to lower your monthly car payment, your interest rate (saving you money), or both. And if you’re just wondering if now is a good time or a bad time to buy a car, here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about jumping into the new or used car market.

October: Prepare for your financial year-end.

The end of the year always comes around fast. Before things get busy once the holidays arrive in full force, take care of those personal finance tasks that are easy to forget or postpone, like reviewing the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies. This is also a great month to request your credit report and go through a year-end financial checklist to prepare for the holidays and beyond.

November: Review your discretionary spending.

Heading into the holidays is a good time to review your discretionary spending and budgeting habits to prevent and control seasonal overspending. You can also learn new ways to save money during the holidays, including what to do instead of Black Friday online shopping, and how to plan ahead to reduce vacation expenses.

December: Map your financial goals for the year ahead.

Making financial New Year’s resolutions is easy; sticking to them is a little tricky. So, keep it simple. Start by evaluating your financial situation, then choose no more than two financial goals to focus on. Revisiting your financial values can help you pinpoint what’s most important to you. Whether it’s to save up for a cross country move, build an emergency fund, or to start paying your bills on time using automation, always find some way to reward yourself when you achieve what you set out to do.

The Bottom Line

Taking time each month to improve some aspect of your financial health with one or more of these tips will help set you up for a more stable present and secure future, no matter what comes your way.

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