Is this the year you take control of your finances?

If it’s a goal you’ve had on your list for a while, make it happen this year.

Many begin with great intentions but quickly become discouraged – mainly because this task can be overwhelming.

While there’s probably a laundry list of items to address, let’s simplify.

Continue reading for three items to tackle in the first quarter of 2024.

Next to each month, we’ve identified a task with helpful suggestions.

January: #1 Control Spending

At the beginning of every year, most credit card companies will compile a summary of your spending from the previous year.

When you receive this information, review it.

If you don’t have this summary, go online to your account and see if your financial institution can provide this information.

If you have too many summary statements to review, it’s time to consolidate your credit cards. Pick one or two credit cards to keep and stop using the others.

Finance Charges:

Look at how much you spent on finance charges in 2023. These charges occur when you carry over balances monthly.

Think about how you could have used that money instead of giving it to your credit card company.

If you want to pay less in finance charges, pay your credit card balances at the end of each month.

This year, target $0 for finance charges by paying balances in full.

Late Fees:

Also, look at how much you spent on late fees.

If your due date is before your salary is deposited into your checking account, contact the credit card company to change your due date.

Schedule payments online to avoid late fees.


If you have no finance charges or late fees, examine how you spend your money; specifically, look for where you overspend.

If you have many charges with Amazon or PayPal, pull up those accounts to determine what you buy online.

From all this information, identify one way you will reduce spending.

Here are some ideas:

Spend 20% less on food by dining in more than dining out.

Limit online purchases by not buying anything after consuming alcoholic beverages.

Start saving and planning for warm-weather weekend getaways to avoid last-minute purchases.

Budget how much you will spend on gifts for special occasions (e.g., birthdays, holidays, weddings, baby showers, graduation, etc.).

Stop splurging on new toys and outfits for your pet.

By focusing on one area, you’ll be more successful in achieving it.

Once you’ve tackled one item, you can move on to others on your list.

You’re changing behavior, so be patient with yourself.

February: #2 Review Home + Auto Insurance Policies

Review your home and auto insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage.

Ask your insurance agent for any discounts that may apply to you.

Some companies give a discount if you’re older, have a good record, or if you have multiple policies.


Check the market value of your home when reviewing your home insurance.

Your homeowner’s insurance typically requires you to insure at least 80% of your home’s full replacement value.

Home contents are usually covered up to 50% of the value of the home.

Items of extraordinary value should be covered by an additional “Valuable Articles Floater” to provide full protection.

To help with potential claims, video your belongings. Start with one room at a time.

Keep a backup of this video in a safe location.


Auto accident property damage and liability claims can cause significant financial setbacks.

Take time to understand your coverage for bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability, no-fault coverage, fire, theft/collision, and comprehensive coverage.

Make sure your emergency reserve is sufficient to cover your deductibles.

March: #3 File Taxes

Instead of waiting until the last minute, use this month to file your taxes.

Work with a licensed tax practitioner (CPA or enrolled agent) if you don’t file your own taxes.

You may discover you gave the government too much money and will receive a refund.

If this occurs, consider changing your tax withholding on your paycheck. In this way, you use your money now instead of waiting for the government to return it.

Even if you file an extension, you’re required to pay an estimated tax bill in April.

Sometimes, waiting on investment tax forms (e.g., K-1) may delay your filing. But do yourself a favor and gather all your other tax documents now.

If you want to reduce your future tax bill, start working with your tax advisor for a more tax-efficient filing in 2025.

Take control of your finances this year by tackling these three items – spending, insurance, and taxes.

We’ve kept the list simple to ensure your success. Block off time each month to tackle each item.

Stay PEF (positive, enthusiastic, and focused) and make 2024 your best year ever!

(Update to original post from January 16, 2018)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”