Can you believe 2018 is almost over?! At the end of each year, it’s a good idea to take a look back at your finances. If you set goals at the beginning of the year, have you met them? Are you in a stable place financially? Or are there areas where you could improve? Take a look through this checklist to get a complete snapshot of your finances before the calendar flips.
One of the first areas of your finances you should look at is your debt. How much progress did you make with your debt this year? Or did you add to it rather than subtract from it? If you haven’t yet, go through and record how much you owe and to where (credit cards, student loans, etc.). Keep the list somewhere safe. At this time next year, you can compare where you are. If you didn’t make as much progress as you would have liked this year, why not? Do you have a debt repayment plan? Should you make adjustments to it? Checking in on your debt can help position you for a stronger repayment approach in the new year.
Checking in on your retirement at the end of the year is also wise. Most online platforms allow you to check your plans growth. Use this to look back at where you were at the beginning of the year. How has your money grown? Are you contributing as much as you can? Are you getting the maximum match from your company? Where do you want to be by the end of next year? Because retirement savings plans use compound interest, the more you save earlier on, the better off you’ll be down the line.
Another critical area to check in on is your emergency savings. Having 3-12 months of necessary living expenses saved up is ideal. This way, should the unexpected happen, you’ll be financially prepared. If you don’t have 3-12 months worth of expenses saved up, what adjustments do you need to make to start saving more? If you aren’t prioritizing contributing to your emergency savings, you may need to make changes elsewhere in your budget. Life happens, and getting caught without emergency savings can be incredibly detrimental.
How did your budget hold up this year? Did you even keep a monthly budget? If you haven’t been keeping a budget, now’s the time to start. If you have been, review whether it’s still working for you. Many people look at keeping a budget as a daunting task, mostly because it involves math. However, the math is simple addition and subtraction – what’s coming in versus what’s going out. And you don’t need a fancy software program or smartphone app to keep a budget. All you need is a pen and paper.
Thinking about estate planning can be difficult. Additionally, many people believe they are too young, or that estate planning is only for the wealthy. Neither of these is true. Estate planning is important because it ensures that your assets will be distributed the way you would like and to whom you would like. If you haven’t created a will, you may want to consider it. If you do have a will, the end of the year is an excellent time to review it to ensure it is still accurate and suited to your wishes.
Future Financial Goals
The last thing you should check off your list for the year is your list of future financial goals. If you came into this year with goals, check on your progress. Did you achieve any of your goals? Have you made as much progress as you’d hoped? After gauging how you’ve done on preexisting goals, think about what new goals you may want to set. Perhaps you’re looking to pay off your student loans, buy a house or go on a nice vacation. Once you’ve established a goal (or several), plan out the steps you’ll take to achieve it. Smaller, actionable objectives – such as paying off your highest interest credit card first – will help keep you motivated and allow you to build to those bigger goals. Writing your goals down can also be helpful. Putting pen to paper helps solidify your desire to accomplish it and can help hold you accountable.
The end of the year is a time when many of us reflect on the past 12 months. You can channel that sense of reflection to look back on your finances as well. What did you accomplish financially this year? What could you improve upon in the year ahead? Examining each facet of your financial situation as the year comes to a close will give you a complete snapshot of your money. You will also be better suited to make goals for the coming year. End this year – and start the next – feeling confident in your finances.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.