Now that we’re settled into 2023, there’s one inevitability coming all of our ways: tax time.
Whether you’re the type that jumps on filing your taxes the first day you’re able to or someone who’s scrambling to crunch numbers at 11:30 the night before the filing deadline, tax season is that pesky predictability none of us can avoid. While all the question marks that come with filing taxes can be intimidating—Will I owe? Did I file right? Did I get all the deductions I could?—this is also an opportunity to ask yourself some important questions about your financial health.
As you sort through receipts, W2s or 1099s in the coming weeks, take the time to look at the bigger picture they’re painting. Are you spending more than you’re bringing in? Are you making enough to sock away for those big life goals? What more could you be doing to improve your financial health? These are all important questions but ones we rarely think about during the hustle and bustle of the year—but now, with your financial wellbeing right on display in front of you, you can take advantage of that knowledge to make some changes.
Here are a few ideas to take that inspiration and make it a reality in 2023:
Understand your income and expenses
Even if you try to keep your spending limited, if you don’t have a good idea of exactly where your money is going, it can be hard to make sure you’re not shelling out more cash than you’re bringing in. Take some time to track all the money you’re bringing in and all of your expenses—everything from rent and utilities to groceries and spending on entertainment—so you have a clear picture of any areas where you could trim a bit. Just like with your physical or mental health, you can’t improve your financial health until you know what the problem (or even just the area for opportunity) is!
Make budgeting your friend
The idea of checking an Excel spreadsheet before you head out for a night on the town may not sound too appetizing—but bear with us! Once you have an understanding of your finances, it’s time to make some decisions about spending more wisely—and that’s where a budget comes in. Take what you’re currently spending on things that you don’t absolutely need—dinners out, pricey coffees, even gas (opt for biking or walking when you can!)—and shoot for lowering them by a certain percentage or dollar amount each month. You can certainly go old school with an actual budget sheet or just keep track of your spending on your phone (and there’s certainly an app for that!).
Set goals—and rewards—for yourself
Becoming a better saver and attaining all of your financial goes don’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term process that is going to have progress and pitfalls. Like any major change you’re trying to make, it’s important to know what you’re striving for: saving a certain amount of money in six months or one year, buying a new car, having enough for a down payment on your first house, or even just being able to splurge every now and then, confident that you won’t break the bank. So, keep yourself motivated with small rewards: If you successfully spend a full week making coffee at home, treat yourself to your favorite coffeehouse on the last day. Like any health journey, it’s important to stay connected to what you’re reaching for and pay yourself on the back along the way for making progress!