Another holiday season is upon us, and that means another year is almost in the history books. Whether you run a small business or just manage your personal finances, take time out of your busy holiday schedule to get your business and/or personal finances in order. It’s a great time to prepare for another tax season, review where you’re at, and make smart choices about where you’re going in the coming year.
Here are a few year-end bookkeeping tips to consider this holiday season:
For your business finances…
- Check your inventory. If you make or sell products, take inventory of all products and raw materials you have on hand.
- Run accounting reports. Besides exporting your data in your accounting software’s format or CSV, you should also run year-end financial reports as PDF files. Accounting services change, and if you should need data from past years, it’s easier to look at a PDF. Reports you should run include Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, Transaction Details, and Payroll Taxes for each employee. If you use subcontractors, make sure you have updated W-9 forms.
- Download statements. If you use Paypal or another online banking service, download a PDF report of all transactions for the year. It’s also a good idea to download copies of credit card statements, utility bills, insurance bills, supplier invoices, tax filings, and other online financial data.
- Print your calendar. Your business calendar provides important documentation of meetings, travel, and other activities related to work. Save a copy of the entire calendar year in PDF so you have the details readily available.
- Backup your files. You don’t ever want to risk losing critical financial data. Back everything up on a separate hard drive, and consider using a secure cloud based service to keep another copy. If your phone is integral to your business, keep those files physically backed up on a hard drive in addition to in the cloud.
For your personal finances…
- Review your budget and spending habits. Review your bank and credit card statements from the past year to see where your money is going and what you need to change in 2016. Set a budget and some financial goals, write them down, and stick to them. Make sure the data on your financial tracking system is up to date for tax time.
- Reassess your portfolio. With the dramatic market swings over the past year, check your retirement and other investments to see if they’re still on track with your goals, and make any necessary adjustments.
- Make tax preparations. It’s a few months before tax season, but it never hurts to get a head start on preparing. Start collecting your receipts and important tax documents, and meet with your accountant for an analysis of your finances and advice for the coming year. If you've had any big life changes in the past year such as a marriage, divorce, new baby, or death in the family, don’t forget to update your tax withholding with your employer’s HR department.
- Make a donation. Donating to your favorite charity is a great way to give this holiday season, and it’s partially tax deductible.
- Review your insurance coverage. Review your health, auto, home, life insurance, and other policies to see if your coverage is still adequate, or if you might be paying for something you don’t need.
The end of the year is the perfect time to reassess your finances and your insurance so you can stay on track for the coming year. For more year-end financial tips, talk to the financial experts at Heffernan Insurance Brokers or Heffernan Financial Services.