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How to prepare your finances for the new year

When a new year arrives, it's critical to review your finances with an eye toward making any changes that can improve your situation. While some things will remain the same, others will require your attention.

Here are some of the best ways to prepare your finances for the new year:

  • Review your budget: Not only does this help you better understand how your budget performed last year, but it allows you to make changes for the better in the months to come.
  • Assess your debt: It would be nice to find that you don't have any debt, but this isn't likely to hold true. Assess your debt, paying close attention to any types that are bogging you down, such as large credit card balances.
  • Find new ways to save: Unless you're 100 percent happy with all aspects of your savings, look into new ways to save money. For example, do you have enough money in your emergency account?
  • Focus on retirement: Regardless of your age, you need to be saving money for retirement. A quick review will give you a clear idea of if you're on track to reach your goals or need to adjust your approach so you can save more money.
  • Assess your housing situation: Are you comfortable with how much you pay in rent every month? Are you able to make your mortgage payment? Have you slipped behind on either? You need a place to live, so your housing situation should always be high on your priority list. For instance, if you have reason to believe you could be facing foreclosure in the new year, it's critical to review your circumstances and take steps to prevent this from happening.

When you take these steps, you'll feel better about your financial situation and your ability to prepare accordingly for the new year.

If things have taken a turn for the worse, perhaps because you have more debt than you can handle, it's time to take action. Review your situation in great detail, answer the tough questions and decide if filing for bankruptcy is the best way to dig out of your financial hole.

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