Financial expert offers five tips for getting your finances in order.
While talk about the nation's fiscal cliff makes headlines, what about your own financial situation?
Here are five tips nearly everybody should keep in mind as you financially kick off the New Year:
5. Get your financial house in order.
"It's looking at two things," said Prosperwell Financial's Nicole Middendorf. "One is cash flow. What do you have coming in and what do you have going out, but also what assets you have and what liabilities you have and what are you worth today."
4. If you're not doing so already max out your retirement or 401k accounts, especially if there's a company match.
"It's free money, you want to take advantage of it," said Middendorf. "It's hard to think about retirement sometimes depending upon your age but the earlier the start the easier it is. And if you put money away monthly it's a lot easier to come up with $400 a month, than to instantly come up with $5,000."
3. Run your credit report and if you have any sort of debt, make some type of plan to get rid of it.
"You want to stay on top of it. One so that you make sure the information is correct, but two so you know where you stand," Middendorf explained. "How much money you have out there with the people that you owe, are you an authorized user on accounts and then make sure the information is correct, but then also keep it and protect yourself from identity theft."
2. If you're getting a tax refund each year, while it may seem like a good thing, it's not.
"If you're living beyond your means and you have credit card debt, you're paying interest to a credit card company, but you're giving your money to Uncle Sam on the other hand and not getting any interest for it. So getting a refund is a negative thing, you want to make sure you're giving that money to yourself."
1. Think about and figure out what will happen to your estate, when you're no longer around.
"At a bare minimum you want a healthcare directive and a durable power of attorney. Really it's stating where do you want your money to go and if something were to happen to you who is going to receive those funds and how do you want them to receive them," said Middendorf. "You've worked really hard for the money that you have and you want to make sure it goes where it should go."