Month-by-Month Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Personal Finances

Managing your finances effectively is more than just handling the daily or monthly tasks.  

12/17/2015 10:36:41 AM
Take Control of Your Personal Finances in 2016

Managing your personal finances is an ongoing process that requires discipline.  Most people are successful at making sure the bills get paid and often saving a little on a regular basis.  However, managing your finances effectively is more than just handling the daily or monthly tasks.  There are other financial events that occur throughout the year you should address.   
Here is a monthly calendar that can serve as a guide to addressing some of these other issues. 


  • Establish your financial goals for the year and create a plan to accomplish them.  If you goal is to save on a regular basis, establish an automatic savings plan to have a certain amount transferred from your checking account to your savings account each month.
  • Review your investments to ensure your asset allocation matches your time horizon and risk tolerance.
  • Prepare a personal balance sheet.


  • Start to get your information organized for filing your tax return.
  • Be sure your financial information is organized.  Consider using the Family Records Almanac to record and store important financial and family records and information.


  • Create or update an inventory of your belongings for insurance purposes.  If you have a video inventory, be sure to store a copy in a secure location away from your home.
  • Review your insurance policies to ensure you have the coverage you need, including an umbrella liability policy.  Be sure to check the deductibles.


  • Be sure your tax returns are filed.  You can file for an extension if you need more time but that does not delay when you may need to pay the amount due.
  • Dispose of tax information that is no longer needed.  The IRS only has three years to begin an audit unless you do not report all your income or file a fraudulent return.  You generally only need information for three years from the due date of the return when you report the information.  You will probably want to keep copies of your tax returns forever.


  • De-clutter and organized your papers. Then securely get rid of your old documents that you no longer need during North Shore Bank’s 10th annual free Bank Wide Community Shredding Day event on Saturday, May 7, 2015 from 9am-11am. Every location will accept materials and some offices will have onsite shredding trucks available for larger amounts of papers (1-2 boxes). Refer to our website for more details closer to the event date.
  • Check your credit report to guard your financial identity.  You can get a free credit report through the website –
  • Review your borrowing.  If it is getting excessive, take steps to bring it under control.
  • Review your mortgage to determine if you should consider refinancing.


  • Review your investments to make sure your portfolio matches your goals.
  • Perform a mid-year checkup of your finances to ensure you are living up to your financial resolutions you set in January.
  • Stop in to see your Personal Banker who will walk you through a personal assessment and guide you in meeting your short and long term goals.


  • Use an online retirement calculator to determine if your savings plan will provide the funds needed for the retirement lifestyle you want.
  • Use some spare time to learn more about investing or handling your finances in general. Our retirement planning professionals can help answer your questions. Contact us to set up an appointment.
  • There is still time to make changes that will have an impact on the current year.


  • As your children or grandchildren get ready to go back to school, consider how their college educations will be financed.  Look into establishing custodial accounts, Coverdell Education Savings accounts for a Section 529 plan for them.
  • Review the steps you are taking to prevent identity theft and to protect your electronic records.


  • Review your estate plan.  Recent changes to the estate tax laws have raised the threshold on what size estates are subject to tax.  But estate planning is more than just taxes.  Be sure you have other documents that are important – durable power of attorney, power of attorney for health care and living will.  If you have moved, divorced or had new children or grandchildren, you should be sure your estate plan has been updated.
  • You should also make sure the beneficiaries on your retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance are still appropriate.


  • Review your charitable deductions for the year.  Consider giving appreciated stock that you have held for more than a year if you wish to make a large contribution to your favorite cause.
  • If you are self-employed or have a small business, make sure your retirement plan is up to date.


  • Review the details of your employer’s retirement plan.  If you participate in a 401(k) plan, be sure you are contributing enough to get the full employer match contribution.  Review your investment allocation as well.
  • Review any insurance offered by your employer to make sure you have made choices appropriate for your situation.


  • Discuss your finances with your family.  Keeping them informed can reduce stress and anxiety if something unfortunate happens.
  • Meet with an expert to discuss your retirement goals. Our goal is to help you live your dreams and protect your family.
  • Review your investment portfolio and your investment results for the year.  If you have realized capital gains and unrealized capital losses, consider taking a loss to offset earlier gains.
  • Spend a little time to create your financial resolutions for the next year and write them down.


Eight Steps to Simplify Your Finances 
The suggestions on this calendar may not match your personal financial schedule.  However, it can serve as a reminder to make sure you address important issues.
Remember, we are here to help. We invite you to visit your local North Shore Bank office at anytime for a financial review and assessment. It doesn’t take long and you will leave feeling confident that you are on track and maximizing your money to achieve your personal goals. 

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