With just a few mental housekeeping tasks we are able to ring in the new year with a clean slate and set our family up for success. Let’s get organized!
1. File this year’s receipts.
My obsession with keeping receipts orderly is a holdover from our independent contractor days. We used to save every scrap from every purchase in case we got audited (this made for HUGE files every year) but now we just hang onto a few. Our rule of thumb is to keep grocery receipts until the food is consumed, gas receipts for a couple weeks (this comes from the time I pumped unleaded but actually ended up with a tank full of diesel!), and big ticket items indefinitely. At the end of the year I bundle them all up by month or category, pop them into a manilla envelope labeled with the year and file that into a file box in the top of our closet.
2. Prepare our budget for success.
I’m not talking about making a budget for the entire year because I haven’t been brave enough to do that yet! For us preparing our budget means sitting down together to look at last year’s budget template, determining what worked and what didn’t, and adjusting our budget categories accordingly. We made a major overhaul to our categories for the coming year which will help us really hone in on our spending and see where we can make improvements.
3. Calculate sinking funds.
We have deemed 2017 as the very last year that we go into debt for Christmas, so hello sinking funds! If, like us, you are new to sinking funds take a look at this article from Dave Ramsey which specifically addresses why a sinking fund is perfect for Christmas spending. This year we are planning sinking funds for Christmas and annual vehicle registration fees.
4. Backup and wipe HomeBudget app.
We love to start the new year with a blank slate in our favorite budgeting app, HomeBudget. I email myself backups of all the various data from the past year and then reset the app – this enables us to clear out those pesky payees that we only purchased from once, speeds the app up and makes it prime for the budget overhaul I mentioned in number two above.
5. Set some goals.
It wouldn’t be a new year without resolutions! Hayden and I will be sitting down soon to reflect on the passing year and set down goals for ourselves personally and as a family. It is a wonderful exercise to do together because we each have our accountability partner cheering us on from the very beginning!