January is a good time for a budget makeover. After all, you’re likely setting your financial goals for the year, and it’s a good time to make note of lifestyle changes. Certain areas of your budget especially deserve your attention. These are things you should consider, as you begin a new financial year.
Big Life Changes
Are you expecting a baby? Planning to get pregnant? Getting married? If you’re going to be making big changes, you need to budget for them. Besides budgeting for medical expenses for a baby and wedding expenses for your big day, you need to look at the cost of updating your will and your life insurance policy.
If you have kids that will be heading off to college soon, do you have enough money in their college funds? Do you need to up your contribution?
As you consider big changes in your life, look through the financial ramifications. They can dramatically change your annual budget.
Utility companies frequently change their rates at the beginning of the year. If your gas or electric company has modified their rates, you may need to budget more (or even less!) for your utilities.
Rumor has it that gas prices are going to skyrocket again this year. In addition, at least one state (mine) has new gasoline taxes going in to effect this month. Assess your driving habits and budget accordingly.
In addition, take a long hard look at your vehicle. Do you need to start budgeting for a new vehicle purchase in the next couple of years? If your car is getting older, do you need to up the budget for car repairs? How about vehicle registration? Did the fees go up in your state? These are the kinds of things that can wreck your budget, if you’re not prepared.
It’s never fun to think of taxes right after the holidays, but it’s necessary. Take a look at the 2011 tax tables to make sure you’re withholding enough money from your paychecks. Make note of any federal or state tax law changes that may affect you.
Preparing for budget changes early in the year will help you keep your life financially stable. It’s better to face higher prices now than to be surprised by a big bill down the line. You’ll thank yourself when you have the money to pay it!