6 Things To Do Before The Year Ends So You're Ready To Welcome January In

The end of the year is an exciting time for many of us, often because we're obsessed with the idea of a fresh start. But before we can do that, there are certain things to do before the year ends. Although any moment can bring new beginnings, there's something about a brand spanking new year that makes us want to wipe the slate clean and start over. Think of it as tying up loose ends, crossing your t's and dotting your i's, and any other figures of speech you want to insert here.

You can't open a new chapter without closing the previous one, so don't feel like you have to hit the ground running in 2017 with 2016 still holding you back. Some of these items on your to-do list have to do with your finances (read: probably pretty important). Others are more for your mental and emotional well-being (read: still equally important). Either way, if you want to ring in the new year with resolutions you'll actually stick to, take a peek at this list so that you don't have any lingering items past due.

I know we say this every year, but let's make next year our year. No. Really. I'm serious this time.

Check For Your Free Credit Report


Many credit websites offer one free credit report a year. You can find one of these with a quick Google search. If you haven't used yours already, do so immediately! Know where you stand credit-wise and where there are opportunities to improve.

Declutter Your Home


This is no joke! Professional organizers have shared experiences of being called to the homes of messy people, saying that a lot of them have specific things in common: They're drained, confused, they can't get to work on time, they're overwhelmed, nonfunctional, and unproductive. One study found that physical clutter surrounding you indeed competes for your attention, leading to a decline in performance, increased stress, difficulty being creative, and a spike in stress hormones.

Remember that clutter doesn't have to be physical. Do you have a bunch of unanswered emails sitting in your inbox? That's clutter too.

Schedule Appointments With Your Health Professional


Did you already meet your health insurance deductible so that your insurance company is contributing to your medical bills? Keep in mind that typically, deductibles apply every calendar year (that is, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31). This means there's a good chance that come Jan. 1, you're back to square one, needing to meet your deductible before you receive any financial help.

If you've met your deductible for the year, schedule appointments with the doctor, dentist, etc. sooner rather than later.

Start Preparing Your Taxes


I'm annoyed just writing this, because there are few conversations more soul-crushing than those having to do with taxes. But you know what stinks more? Waiting until March to face the music and then giving yourself a giant anxiety attack.

Organize any bills, receipts, and pay stubs ahead of time. Make sure you're keeping track of any deductions you might have. Make tax season way easier on yourself and get ready now. You'll be glad you did.

Set Goals For Yourself For The Next Year


Don't dismiss this as inconsequential. A great deal of research has found that setting goals can improve your performance, including a study which determined that 67 percent of successful people write down their goals, compared to only 17 percent of their less successful counterparts. Setting specific, measurable goals has an observed positive impact.

This last bit is important, because the more specific we are in our goal-setting, the more accountable we will be. For example, saying that you want to read more in the coming year will likely be less effective than saying you want to read a book a month. Be particular, and give yourself concrete milestones.

Contribute More To Your Retirement Account


Do you have the ability to max out your 401(k)? Now's the time to check what you've contributed — especially if your employer is matching it — and determine if it may be in your best interest to contribute more. The contributions are tax deductible, and the more you put in, the more you get in interest and appreciation.

Note that there are some exceptions to this, so you should always do your homework and talk to a financial expert.

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