Now that we’re three months into 2014, it’s a good time to examine where you are financially. Are you on track to reach your goals? With spring right around the corner, it’s time to do some early spring cleaning — starting with your finances. Make these six money moves to ensure that March isn’t full of (financial) madness.
Finish your taxes
Don’t wait until April to wrap up your taxes! Get a move on and finish them up now. It will save you a headache later. If you’re using the services of a tax professional to complete your taxes — make sure he or she has all the necessary forms. And if you get a refund, don’t spend it unwisely!
Stock up on chocolate, frozen food, winter gear, and green stuff
Now that Valentine’s Day is over — retailers and grocers will need to rid themselves of leftover chocolate. So if you’ve got a sweet tooth, stock up. You might even be able to use some of the chocolate to fill up your kid’s Easter basket.
If you’re a fan of frozen food, March is your month. This year marks the 31st annual National Frozen Food Month. Look for frozen food deals at your local grocery store.
You should also stock up on the last of the winter gear. This winter has been particularly brutal for folks in the Midwest and East Coast, so pick up some winter apparel because you might need it. There won’t be as much of a selection as there would be in February, but you can score some really good deals.
Also, buy some green decorations after St. Patrick’s Day. You can possibly use some of it for Easter or for a party.
Plan for the summer
Have you started planning your summer vacation? It’s a good time to start. Last-minute planning stresses everyone out. If you’re going to a popular vacation destination, like say Europe, book your flight and hotel. Those rates will only increase as people start to buy airfare and book their hotel rooms.
If you need new luggage, it’s also a great time to get pick some up. March is in between travel seasons, so you can find lots of good travel gear at a discounted price, particularly luggage.
For parents, have you thought about what you’re going to do with your kids this summer? Research camps in the area. Many of them are probably accepting enrollment right now.
It’s also a good time to look at your budget and make sure that you’re on a savings plan to pay for the various activities you might be planning for this summer or the big bills that are sure to come your way.
Keep your high school senior on track
If you’ve got a high school senior at home, make sure to keep encouraging him or her to apply for scholarships. Also, don’t forget to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. While you have until June 30 to complete the application, many states and colleges have earlier deadlines if you’re applying for financial aid.
If you’re confused about the application or overwhelmed by the process, ask a school counselor for help or look into FAFSA workshops. College acceptance letters should be mailed out all this month, so enjoy your time with your high school senior. By April 1, most college decisions will be mailed.
Sign up for health insurance
If you’re planning to buy marketplace health insurance during the open enrollment period, make sure to do it before March 31. After that deadline, if you don’t have a health care plan, you’ll have to pay a penalty — $95 per adult and $47.50 per child with a maximum of $285 per household (or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater).
If you’ve got health insurance through your employer, are covered by Medicaid or Medicare, or have already purchased insurance through a private provider, there’s no need to worry. If you can’t afford health insurance or have qualify for a hardship exemption, you won’t have to worry either. But if you need health insurance and can afford it, better get to purchasing!
Examine your financial goals during March Madness
Make sure you avoid March madness this month! We’re not talking about the basketball tournament, we mean financial madness!
March is the perfect time to take stock of where you are financially. Are you on track to meet your financial goals? If not, readjust and figure out how you can achieve what you want. You’re only three months in the new year, so it’s not too late to get back on track. If you are making good progress, continue to take the necessary steps to reach your goals by year’s end.