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Year-End Financial Checklist

This year definitely had its challenges. With inflation and student loan payments starting back (after over three years!)—you might be tempted to just shut the book on the past and start over on January 1. But listen: Reflecting on what went right—and wrong—in 2023 can make a huge impact on how you handle your money next year!

And I’ve got good news. This process doesn’t even have to be super hard. Just work through the seven topics in this year-end financial checklist! Let’s get right to it.

1. Budgeting

You can’t have a year-end financial checklist without talking about the budget.

Now, I need you to be completely honest with yourself here. Ask and answer these questions:

How regularly did you make a budget?

Hopefully you’ll say every single month. A monthly budget is key to taking control and moving ahead with your money. Again, be honest as you answer. You aren’t thinking about what you want to change for next year—yet. You’re just looking back at 2023.

Did you keep track of your expenses?

A budget isn’t a slow cooker. You can’t set it and forget it. You’ve got to get in there and track your expenses. And I mean all of them!

When you filled up at the gas station—that expense goes into your transportation category. When you grabbed things for the kids’ lunches? That’s groceries! And even that new cardigan—that’s got to go into clothing (or personal spending, depending on how you budget).

How did it go this year? Did you get all your expenses tracked? About 50%? You don’t have to do exact math here. Just think about how consistent you were.

Did you have a budget line that was hard to keep in line?

One of the best parts of tracking your expenses is being able to see what budget lines tend to get out of line—aka those spots where you often overspend.

Now, inflation had all of us adjusting our budgets to make up for higher costs. But, if we’re honest, we all have spending weaknesses too.

Jot down all the areas that were trouble spots for you: your fun money, grocery spending, gasoline—any of it. This gives you an idea of where you need to cut back on spending or add more money (because things just cost more these days!).

Did you have monthly budget meetings?

If you’re married, did you and your spouse have a budget meeting every month? If not, did you find an accountability partner to meet up with? How did these meetings go?

By the way, my friends at EveryDollar made two budget meeting guides (the classic edition and one for couples) if you need them for next year!

Once you’ve taken a look at these questions, start planning what needs to change in how you budget next year. Put budget meetings on the calendar (for the whole year, maybe!), figure out how to make tracking transactions part of your routine (EveryDollar can help with that!), and prepare to make budgets that reflect the current economy and your financial goals (big and small) in 2024!

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2. Insurance        

When it comes to reviewing your insurance for your year-end financial checklist, I’ve got just two questions you need to cover:

Do you have the insurance you need?

It may seem simple, but if accidents or emergencies totally threw off your financial goals this year, not having the right insurance could be to blame.

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The insurances you just can’t do without are home (or renters), auto, term life, health, identity theft protection, long-term disability, long-term care (if you’re at least 60 years old), and umbrella (if your net worth is higher than $500K).

Are your insurances up to date?

Not only do you need all those insurances, they need to be up to date and reflect any of your life changes in 2023 and what’s coming in 2024. For example, if your house jumped in value, check that homeowners insurance. If you’re buying a new (to you) car next year, you’ll need to update your auto insurance.

Most people aren’t insurance gurus (and that’s really okay!), so we’ve got a quick and easy coverage checkup you can take to see exactly where you stand and what next steps you should take!

3. Giving

I know it seems counterintuitive, but one of the biggest reasons to get smart financially is so you can be outrageously generous! I call this the most fun you can have with money. Even if you’re paying off debt in Baby Step 2, give a little now. This helps you build that muscle for when you can give a lot later. 

Did you give regularly?

If you didn’t give much this year, that doesn’t make you a bad person—I just want you to experience how much giving can literally change your life. It helps you become more content and less self-focused.

Think of ways you want to give and practice generosity next year.

4. Wills

What should everyone have but no one wants to talk about? A will. But listen—you need a will. Sure, it’s a little uncomfortable to think about getting a will, but it’s one of the easiest things you can do to take care of your finances and your loved ones.

Do you have a will?

So, this is actually one of the easiest things to check off. If you’ve got a will, you’re done! If you don’t, work with Ramsey’s trusted provider and make your will online. Today!

5. Taxes

I know, you probably don’t want to start thinking about this yet, but Tax Day is just around the corner. Answering these questions now will help you prep for it. After all, the taxes you pay are for 2023, so making this a part of your year-end financial checklist just makes sense.

Have you accounted for all the taxes you’ll need to pay?

For example, if you have a side hustle, did you have taxes withheld in those paychecks? If not, did you save for taxes on your own along the way? If you’re self-employed, make sure you’ve got all your paperwork in order to pay self-employment tax.

Will you need a tax advisor, or can tax software help you get the job done?

What’s the best way to get your taxes done this year? Well, if your taxes seem pretty complicated, hire a pro. If you know the ropes and don’t have a million side jobs or other challenges when it comes to paying your taxes, fill out the forms using software that does the math for you.

I want you to get on top of your taxes now so you don’t face any expensive surprises come tax season. So plan ahead—and file early!

6. Net Worth

Simply put, net worth is what you own minus what you owe

What’s your current net worth?

To figure out your net worth, you add up the value of your assets and subtract your debts. Go ahead and use our Net Worth Calculator to see where you stand.

The goal here is to have a positive net worth heading into the new year. But listen, if you run your numbers and realize you aren’t there, that doesn’t necessarily mean you made bad money decisions this year.

Maybe you’ve got a lot of debt, but you’re working that debt snowball and paying it off. You might still have a negative net worth right now. But you’re working the Baby Steps, so you’re moving in the right direction! That’s a win!

Facing your net worth right now can help as you set money goals for the next year— which brings us to our last point.

Money Goals

The truth is, I want you to have goals for all the areas of your life. But this is your year-end financial checklist, so we’ll stick to money goals here.

Did you have any money goals this year?

If so, look at your progress. What got you off track? When did you have to pivot? Did you make the right goals a priority? 

If not, why not? What held you back from even putting pen to paper or just dreaming for your future?

What goals do you want to set for next year?

I know there are a lot of financial goals you can make in life. Save for this, pay for that, travel here, invest there—how can you narrow it all down? Well, for the big goals in life, follow the Baby Steps. They’ll help you save money, pay off debt, and build financial security.

Even while you’re in the Baby Steps, you might start making smaller financial goals. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Of course there are plenty more out there, but this can help you get the ideas turning in your own head! As you plan for next year, let yourself dream big! And use your budget to make those big dreams happen—without compromising your finances.

Checking Off Your Year-End Financial Checklist

When you work through this list, some of you may end up feeling pretty proud and others may be wondering how you got so far off target. Please hear me say—that’s not a bad place to be. Really. Because it means you’ve looked your finances in the eye and you’ve been honest with your situation.

You can’t keep on track if you don’t check in. And you can’t change directions if you don’t know how things truly are. Right now. 

By asking yourself all the questions I just went over, you’ve now got a starting point for how to win in 2024.

And remember, I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it a million times again: You cannot get your finances in order unless you budget. So, download EveryDollar (it’s free!), go through this list, and start prepping your budget for 2024!

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Rachel Cruze

About the author

Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, financial expert, host of The Rachel Cruze Show, and co-host of Smart Money Happy Hour. Rachel writes and speaks on personal finance, budgeting, investing and money trends. As a co-host of The Ramsey Show, America’s second-largest talk radio show, Rachel reaches millions of weekly listeners with her personal finance advice. She’s appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News and been featured in TIME, REAL SIMPLE and Women’s Health, among others. Through her shows, books, syndicated columns and speaking events, Rachel shares fun, practical ways to take control of your money and create a life you love. Learn More.

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