How do you set yourself up for success with your finances and career before a new year rolls around? Do you make big resolutions? (We prefer “intentions”.) Or set small monthly goals? Or do you do nothing because, oops, the year is already over?!
These months are hectic — and the pressure to add life-changing habits into your daily routine doesn’t help. But we’re big believers that there’s always something you can do to boost your confidence in your money and career for the year ahead. Even if you only have five minutes to spare.
To fit money and career planning into your busy schedule, use our easy-to-follow year-end checklist. It’s full of actionable money tips and career advice to help you feel like you’re making progress right away. (Because you are.)
Money Tips for Success in 2024
Review your spending
Set financial boundaries for the holiday season.Are you giving gifts this year? If so, decide how much you want to spend. Which holiday events are most important for you to attend? Have you discussed this with your family yet? Knowing your financial boundaries and being upfront about them can help you stick to a holiday budget. It’s a hack to avoid overspending or making impulsive money moves when it feels like the whole world is splurging.
Review your annual spending.The most effective way to make meaningful budget tweaks in the new year is to look at a complete picture of your annual spending up until this point. Did it increase or decrease during certain months? No judgment — this isn’t meant to make you feel guilty. Just to see if you can spot any spending patterns. Write them down and make some quick notes on how you might adjust them this upcoming year.
Check if you need to use your FSA / dependent care FSA by the end of the year.Depending on where you work, this pre-tax money might roll over. But it usually doesn’t. After you’ve confirmed with your employer that it’s “use it or lose it,” plan to spend your remaining FSA balance before the end of the year. Schedule an extra acupuncture or therapy session, upgrade to a new pair of glasses, or browse thousands of other things that are (surprisingly) eligible at The FSA store, including menstrual care, skin care, and sun care.
Confirm your health insurance deductible.If you’ve met it this year, congratulations! Take advantage of your status and make end-of-year appointments. All those pricier specialist visits and little procedures you’ve put off the past few years are more affordable now. Also, look into stocking up on as many multi-month supplies of your (and your kids’) prescriptions as you can.
Check your emergency fund.How healthy is your emergency fund? Were you able to save one month’s worth of take-home pay? (That’s an important start!) Are you somewhere in the three-to-six-month cushion? Continue to make regular contributions until you reach your personal comfort level. If you fell behind on contributions (inflation being what it is) or had to dip into your emergency fund (that’s what it’s there for), prioritize replenishing it — even before paying down high-interest student loans and credit cards.
Prep for tax season
Get the complete checklist of Ellevest’s year-end tax planning tips.
Collect financial paperwork.Locate and save all your tax season documents in a folder on your desktop or device ASAP. That includes last year’s tax filing info, any receipts for expenses, and account statements: banks and credit card, mortgage(s), student loans, retirement and investment accounts, etc. Get organized now, scramble less when it’s time to file.
Set up a meeting with your tax pro.Stress less about taxes knowing you have an appointment with your tax pro on the books well ahead of the tax season rush. Whether your filing is complex or has changed from last year — say, your income increased or your moved to a new state — they can assess your current situation and help you understand how any changes might affect your taxes.
Don’t have a tax pro yet? Book a 1:1 tax planning session with Ellevest.
Contribute to tax-advantaged accounts.The more you contribute to your traditional 401(k), traditional IRA, and HSA, the less you’ll have to pay on income taxes. (This move is especially clutch if you got a pay bump this year.) For your 401(k), you have until December 31 to contribute. For the others, you have until April of next year.
Donate to charity.In addition to lowering your taxable income, charitable giving is just nice to do during this time of year. You can even make donations in someone’s name as a holiday gift.
Go through the bigger-picture stuff
Check your financial wellness.At Ellevest, we believe that having a healthy financial wellness practice is key to hitting your financial goals — and improving your quality of life. So, check in on your financial wellness fundamentals: your financial foundation, your financial plan (aka your money roadmap), and your money mindset. What went well? What were the challenges? Make a ritual of your financial wellness check-ins next year to boost your confidence in what you have, where you are, and where you’re going financially.
Review your beneficiary designations.Life insurance policies and financial accounts all come with them. Do you remember who your beneficiaries are? You might want to check on that, especially if you had a big life event (marriage, kids, divorce, death of a parent, etc) this year. Speaking of milestones …
Adjust tax withholdings and insurance plans to match this year’s milestones.Did you have a baby? Adopt a pet? Get a raise or a new job? Buy a home or move to a new place? You may need to adjust tax withholdings and/or quarterly tax payments, purchase more life insurance or disability insurance, update your renter’s insurance plan, buy pet insurance, etc.
Check on your 401(k) contributions.Contribution limits are going up in 2024, which means that if you’re currently maxing out your 401(k), you’ll need to bump those contributions up to keep pace.
Career Advice for Success in 2024
Tie up loose ends
Use your PTO — and make some plans for the new year.If your paid time off doesn’t roll over, the time for that staycation is now. Submit the time off request ASAP so you can actually use that company benefit before it disappears. Seriously … we’ll wait! If you notice you stockpile a lot of PTO, now’s also a good time to make a PTO schedule for the new year. Even if you don’t have any specific plans, pencil in some OOOs throughout the calendar year.
Inventory your accomplishments.We’re always looking forward — to the next project, the next deadline, the next launch. But you owe it to yourself to pause and look back on what you’ve accomplished this year. OK, maybe you didn’t get a promotion this year — or hit other goals you’d planned to. But there are still small wins. And those small wins can be transformational. Make the most of your small wins and take an inventory of them from this past year. Then, to keep the momentum going, make a list of new ones. (Don’t forget to celebrate them as you check them off!)
Gather feedback from trusted sources (and pump them up, too).Don’t stop with your own reflections. Ask mentors, bosses, colleagues, and friends how they’ve noticed you grow professionally. Get curious about how they’re growing and getting inspired. Ask them to share their favorite workshops, skill trainings, networking groups, or reading recommendations (here’s an on-topic read about the kind of feedback you should ignore). Of course, offer up your feedback, resources, and inspo, too.
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.An outdated portfolio might cost you a new opportunity. Revamp your resume so it reflects your current responsibilities, captures all your latest experience, and contains relevant keywords that might help get yours noticed. After you do the same for your LinkedIn profile, do a quick audit of who you follow on the platform. Are there any new connections, colleagues, companies, or thought leaders you should be seeing in your feed? Consider subscribing to LinkedIn newsletters, like What the Elle, where Ellevest’s CEO Sallie Krawcheck drops exclusive insights on women’s wealth.
Declutter your office / desk.Organize files and documents, clean up your email inbox, update your email signature and out-of-office message(s) — anything that’ll make coming back to work feel a little less like returning to the grindstone.
Prep for the future
Prep for your upcoming performance review.January is coming — if you updated your resume and LinkedIn, why not also get a head start on annual review season? You’ll be advocating for yourself and defining your value to your organization, and that deserves some prep time. Make a list or use our Career Checkup Worksheet (free for Ellevest clients) to help you short-list your accomplishments and goals.
Start scheming on that promotion or bonus.It could be time to ask for more — after all, your company might very well be discussing next year’s budget right now. Speaking up could get your well-earned recognition on the balance sheet. Nervous? These tips for negotiating your salary could help you get ready for that conversation.
Make some plans for professional development.Any worker at any level can benefit from professional development. During your performance review, ask your manager what the company offers internally. Or, reach out to HR to ask if your employer offers an education stipend. If you do have an annual professional development allowance, it might renew in January. Start researching what courses, classes, or materials might be a good fit.
Tend to your network.Hate a “cold call”? The holidays — and the start of the new year — are your opportunities to get in touch with your network a little more naturally. Drop an email to key contacts to say hello or make loose plans to catch up once schedules clear.
Start setting your goals.A SWOT analysis, a Start/Stop/Continue exercise, an intentions moodboard — even just setting up your bullet journal can set a bright tone to help you feel confident and refreshed going into the new year. (And if you just thought to yourself, “Wtf is a SWOT analysis?” Check out Ellevest’s four-week career intentions email course — available for all Ellevest clients). It offers tons of ideas on how to reflect on your recent milestones and strategize on behalf of Future You.)
Please don’t let the length of this checklist bring you down. You can set yourself up for success in the new year without ticking every box — whatever you end up getting to counts. Even if you tick one box, it’s worth it: You’re that much closer to feeling good about where you are and where you’re going next year.
Want to dial in your financial goals for the new year? Book a free 15-minute call with an Ellevest financial planner and make progress right away.
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