Desoto County News

Harris: Reflection, Collection, and Protection 2024

By Charlestien Harris

Ah, the new year will be upon us in a matter of just a few days! Happy New Year! When I look back over this past year, I can honestly say that I have experienced some highs and some lows in several areas in my personal and financial life. This would be a great time to reflect, collect, and protect as you move forward in the coming year. Hopefully, the suggestions listed below will give you a starting point.

Charlestien Harris

Reflection is defined as giving serious thought or consideration to past actions or thoughts that can have positive or negative consequences. Reflecting helps you develop your skills and review their effectiveness, rather than just carrying on doing things as you have always done them. 

Some items you might consider reflecting on:

  • Money moves: Begin to look at how you came out of the past year with your finances. Was it good or bad — naughty or nice — you decide.
  • Saving habits: Review your saving habits to see if you can make some changes that will help you increase the amount of money you can save.
  • Decreasing debt: Try to decrease the amount of debt you have already accumulated and look for new ways to avoid creating new debt.
  • Using credit wisely: Look at your credit score and report at the end of the year. Ask yourself, how can you improve it, and are you watching your credit utilization ratio and keeping it below 30 percent.

Collection is defined as something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of material accumulated in one location, especially for some purpose or as a result of some process. 

It is tax time, and there are a few items that need to be collected to properly prepare your tax return:

  • Tax forms (W-2, 1099, 1040, 1099-K, etc.)
  • Personal information (Names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, etc.)
  • Dependent information
  • Expenses and receipts (Medical bills, charitable contributions, IRA contributions, and certain education expenses.)
  • Interest statement (Mortgage-Form 1098, Student loan-1098-E, Tuition-1098-T, etc.)
  • Other Income documentation
  • Types of deductions
  • Personal property taxes you paid
  • Disaster declarations for tax purposes

This is not an exhaustive list of documents needed to complete a tax return, but it is a start. Try visiting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at www.irs.gov for additional information and to download the various forms you may need to complete your 2023 taxes.

Protection is defined as any measure taken to guard a thing against damage caused by outside forces. In the coming year, try to take measures that will help ensure you have a good understanding of your finances so you can determine what kind of protection you may need for the coming year.

  • Insurance: Review your current policies. They may need updating or some changes may need to be made, such as named beneficiary, marital status, removal of an aged-out dependent, or other changes.
  • Create a wealth plan: A disciplined and formal plan for addressing financial matters that may include proactive future thinking and opportunities to consider what you want from life, identify and prioritize goals, and map out the manageable steps to achieve them.
  • Will and Estate Planning: Plans can include an up-to-date will, naming a guardian for your minor child, naming an executor (or personal representative), and trustee you are confident will carry out your wishes, make considerations for any special medical or educational needs certain family members may have, and of course, try to include provisions for long-term care for you and your spouse and/or other dependents should the need arise.

This is not a list of everything that needs to be considered when you are reflecting, collecting, and protecting for the coming year, but it is a great start! Finances play an integral part in our everyday lives, and taking the time to get a better understanding of our finances can certainly go a long way to having a more positive outlook in the future. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and now I want to wish you all a Happy New Year both in life and with your finances. 

For more information on this and other financial topics, you can email me at Charlestien.Harris@banksouthern.com or call me at 662-624-5776. 

Until next week — stay financially fit!

Charlestien Harris is a financial contributor to DeSoto County News. She is a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles are seen in a number of publications around the region.

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