Autumn the Last Quarter of the Year 2012: Action Plan
Autumn, the last full season of the calendar year, is also the last financial quarter for personal and small business finances.
We ease into changing seasons based on years of predictable cycles and responsive behaviors, wearing sweaters, adjusting schedules, and focusing on indoor activities.
We also ease into predictable seasonal financial behaviors. For some households and small businesses autumn is a cataclysmic financial season. After managing finances for nine months - stored consumer energy and emotional links to holidays past automatically kick financial behaviors to self-destruct mode.
For savvy Personal Financial households and small businesses autumn is a pivotal season of the year. It's the season to evaluate, adjust, and plan. These households and small businesses evaluate the status of their year to date finances, adjust last quarter financial activity, and plan for the upcoming year.
Whatever your seasonal financial behavior this checklist of year-end financial activities may be helpful:
*Evaluate financial plans made for 2012. Is the plan working? Note inconsistencies and unforeseen exceptions. Have financial objectives or intentions been met? Three indicators are savings, investment performance, and debt levels.
*Evaluate and adjust taxes for 2012. If in doubt contact a tax professional for year end planning. Focus on:
- Adjustments to estimated tax payments and withholding. Underpaid/unfunded taxes are a black hole for personal and small business sustainability.
- Year-end contributions to health saving accounts and retirement plans.
- 2012 gifting and charitable contributions.
- Expiration or changes in tax law effecting your specific tax situation.
- Planned purchases qualified for 179 deduction.
- Income projections for cash flow planning 2013.
*Make a holiday spending plan. Determine the dollar amount available for holiday expenses and allocate accordingly. Consider all additional expenses including increased grocery expenses, holiday events, gifts and travel. Don't allow unsatisfying and stressful traditions to override healthy financial planning and decisions.
*Make a financial plan for 2013. Depending on financial skills, reliability of income, and predictability of life events a plan will focus on one of three priorities: (1) Subsistence, (2) Preservation, or (3) Security often referred to as Wealth Building. The focus and priority often change from year to year, particularly in current economic times.
Every household and small business has a unique financial profile requiring thoughtful evaluation, adjustment, and planning.
Evaluation provides an opportunity to determine if financial conduct on auto-pilot is working well or requires adjustment.
Adjustments increase viability and protect against financial black holes.
Planning increases the likelihood for success, identifying behavioral activities and commitments to meet objectives.
Autumn is the season for evaluating, adjusting and planning.