Thursday, December 28, 2006

A To Do List Before 2007

This is my personal to-do-list before 2007 comes around the corner. Most of them applies to the general public so I am posting them here hoping that you can adopt some of them.

1. Gather bills, receipts, bank statements etc. This will help you with the upcoming tax season. It is more than 3 months before deadline, why should I bother? First reason, it is not as easy task as you think it is. Second reason, your accountant would love you for doing this as early as January. You don't want to compete with your accountant's other clients come tax season rush, right?

2. Clean-up, organize, back-up, run anti-virus and defrag your computer. After all the hard work you have put your computer this year (may it be all the work you have done or the web junks your have downloaded online) your computer needs a little bit of "spring cleaning" if you must. By the way, you follow step two in that order: clean-up (includes deleting / uninstalling program and files), organize (create folders by topic/date or whatever system as long as you don't put all your files into the endless pit of MyDocuments), back-up (either on a separate hard drive or cds/dvds), run anti-virus (of course, update them with the latest version) and defrag your computer (this will take a very long time, but the rewards after is very noticeable).

3. Create a 2007 Goal List. This will be further discussed on my first entry for 2007. For now, list down ten things that you want to have or achieve, regardless of money and time.

4. Get a Credit Report. I personally do this around my birthday time, but moving this to the end/start of the year provides you with peace of mind for both identity theft and FICO score. Also, Federal Law states that you are entitled to one free report every 12 months from either the three reporting agencies. Check out https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ for more information. You may need to pay to see your actual FICO score, but all other information that would pertain to accounts and credit cards are for free.

Tip: You could get all three reports one time, or stagger one report from one agency every 4 months.

5. Update records, journals, address books. This includes analog devices (paper and pen based address books / records) and digital devices (PDA, phones, Outlook etc). You will be could be surprised that a contact who used to live in Chicago might be living in New York or Aunt Rose changed her mobile phone number so she can be part of your network (nobody informed her of number portability since she can't be reached!). Also update your business cards and email signatures, you would not want to miss that opportunity when somebody gets hold of an incorrect number.

6. Create Your 2007 Calendar. Mark off birthdays, holidays, vacations and other planned dates for the year including dates for quarterly tax returns, doctor visits etc. This will make perfect sense when you start working on projects for work that could cause conflict with that HS reunion that you have been preparing for in the gym for months.

7. Clean-up and purge your email and files. I would confess that I have emails from 2002 on my personal email account, I save them since I don't know where to file them, but now that I have this list, I would personally get to them. For everybody else, let’s keep the Outlook Exchange server running smoothly by deleting emails from 1997. Thank you.

By the way, check with your state's statute of limitations on debt collection etc. The IRS has 3 years to audit you, 3 years to claim a tax refund and 10 years to collect tax liabilities. But a good rule of thumb is to keep files within the 7 year period.

8. Start Your New Year with a Financial Checkup and Review. Aside from preparing for your tax returns (where we hope to get a pot full of gold in refunds), assess and review your financial standing. Review credit card debts, outstanding purchases, cash flow, budget etc. You don't want to be living a hermit life nor a life drowning in debt. Be realistic and start saving. A $100 per pay that goes automatically to a savings funds is $2400.00 a year. You may ask about investments and stocks, yes it is a good idea but you should have liquid money first.

Check out http://home.ingdirect.com/ and see if their savings solution works for you.

9. Schedule the following important appointments: Physical Check-up, Dental Check-up, Accountant Meeting, Spiritual Retreat and Blood Donation.

There has always been a shortage of good blood. http://www.redcross.org/flash/giftoflife/giftoflife.html

10. Get up and print this list. It may sound absurd, but by seeing this list on paper (if you want a stronger commitment, write these down on paper!) you are likely to do the things listed rather than procrastinate. Post them around or carry the list with you, I know I would.


Jonathan Louie Ong writes from New York. You may reach him at jonathanlouie@bigprojects.org. Expect the weblogs to receive weekly updates in 2007. Cheers to your professional and personal growth in 2007!

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