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Modern Family Finances

Your Winter Checklist: How to Prep Your Finances for the New Year

By Allison Kade Dec 8, 2020

One thing about being a parent: No time. Another thing about being a parent: You’re responsible for keeping your family safe and cared for, and that includes managing your money smartly. 

No time + needing to look after the ones you love = a quarterly checklist to help keep you on track, so you can get back to wiping boogers and giving snuggles. 

Here are our favorite ways to stay on top of your money and your life this winter. 

1. Make Solid New Year’s Resolutions

Studies have shown that we’re likelier to stick to our resolutions when they are tangible and actionable. So instead of “spend less money on takeout,” you might try something like “cook dinner one extra night each week, saving $60 a month.” 

Next time you want to make a new year's resolution for your family, try an implementation intention. That’s an if/then statement laying out how you’ll change your behavior. The key isn’t to focus on not taking a certain action, but to replace it with something else. 

For example, maybe you have a tendency to impulse buy something online whenever you’re in a bad mood. You might resolve: “If I’m having a bad day, then I’ll take a warm bath to relax.” This focuses not on the shopping, but on what you’ll do instead to take your mind off of it. That’s the key.

2. Assess Your Life Insurance Needs

The new year is a good time to take stock of your family situation and whether anything has changed. It’s also a good time to finally tackle those to-dos you’ve been meaning to address but haven’t quite managed to get around to…

The main reason people get life insurance is to help protect those who depend on them financially. For lots of people, this starts becoming important when they have kids or other financial dependents.

(If something happened to you while you were covered, the life insurance company would pay a benefit to the people you chose in your policy, such as your spouse or children. They could use this money for expenses and other costs in your absence.)

Spend a few minutes understanding how life insurance works, how much coverage you might need and what you should know if you’re a stay-at-home parent

When you’re ready, take Fabric’s quiz to see if life insurance makes sense for you and apply for a policy in about 10 minutes (you can do it online without talking to an agent). 

3. Budget for Future Travel Plans (the Pandemic Will Lift Eventually!)

OK, there's a good chance you aren't ready or able to travel right now, especially if pandemic restrictions are tight where you are. Still, we're cautiously optimistic that a covid-19 vaccine and other developments in the new year might mean that we can eventually dream about vacations again.

Now’s a good time to start coming up with ideas on where you want to go once travel is more doable again, and figuring out what it might cost. At any rate, a little travel-related daydreaming may make stay-at-home orders that much more bearable!

Once you have a rough budget in mind, do a little math: Do you already have that amount saved without sacrificing other goals? If not, when do you imagine you might go on vacation, and how much additional money do you need? Take that number and turn it into a weekly (or even daily) savings goal.

It may feel early, but if you start watching airfares now, you’ll have more time to monitor any drops in costs. Websites like Kayak offer alert features to let you know when the trip you’re eyeing is available at a particularly good price (Tip: Search in incognito mode to keep the site from remembering your trip details and showing higher fares). Make sure any flight you book is refundable so you're covered if you have to cancel unexpectedly.

4. Check Your Credit Report

It’s a good idea to check your credit report regularly to make sure that there are no fraudulent charges. Mistakes on your credit history could wrongly bring down your credit ratings, after all. (If you do find any mistakes or errors on your report, you can notify the credit bureaus to get the record changed.)

Legally, you’re entitled to your credit report for free once a year. The best and only recommended place to get it is AnnualCreditReport.com. That’s because there are several copycats out there that claim to be free but actually may roll you into paid subscriptions over time. Only AnnualCreditReport.com is operated by the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. 

5. Start Thinking About Enrollments for Next Year

Holy cow, right?! Especially with the uncertainty in the world, it can be daunting to plan a month in advance, not to mention a whole year.

If your school/daycare/childcare arrangement doesn’t require this much advance notice, you are lucky! Still, even if they haven’t officially asked you yet, it’s smart to begin thinking about your childcare arrangements for the coming year, so there's less chance of being forced to make any flash decisions down the road (or forced to join a waitlist). 

As you bundle up for the rest of winter and dream about spring to come, taking care of just a few important to-dos can make a big difference for your family’s future—and for your own state of mind.

Want to see what's coming up next? Here's a sneak peek at your spring financial to-dos.

Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

Fabric by Gerber Life exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

Information provided is general and educational in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. We make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use, and disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information.

Fabric by Gerber Life offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.


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Written by

Allison Kade

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Term Life Insurance Policy Series ICC22 2205-4004 WSA and Accelerated Death Benefit Rider policy series ICC22 2205-2623 WSA (and state variations where applicable) issued by Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Cincinnati, OH which operates in DC and all states except NY, and distributed by Gerber Life Agency, LLC using Fabric Technologies. Gerber Life Agency, LLC is an affiliate of Gerber Life Insurance Company (est. 1967). All are members of Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern). Issuance of coverage for Term Life Insurance is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Product provisions, availability, definitions and benefits may vary by state. Payment of benefits under the life insurance policy is the obligation of, and is guaranteed by, the issuing company. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer. Products are backed by the full financial strength of the issuing company.

All sample pricing is based on a 30-year old F in Excellent health for the coverage amount shown and a 10-year term policy, unless otherwise stated. Gerber Life Agency, LLC (GLA) is an insurance agency licensed to sell life insurance products. GLA will receive compensation from Western-Southern Life Assurance Company for such sales. The NAIC Company Code for Western-Southern Life Assurance Company is 92622.

Western-Southern Life Assurance Company's A+ Superior A.M. Best Rating: Superior ability to meet ongoing insurance obligations (second highest of 13 ratings; rating held since June 2009). Ratings are subject to change from time to time. The ratings shown here are correct as of 09/03/2022. For more information about a particular rating or rating agency, please visit the website of the relevant agency.

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