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Checklists to Begin Next Year Smoothly

December 31, 2015

The following two checklists are repeated from last year for your convenience and use.

Things to do to start the year on a high note:

Starting the year right means getting things organized, in order and getting started on the right foot.  Here is a checklist of some things to do:

  • Stop marking SALY (Same As Last Year) next to your new year’s resolutions.  Make one or two big-time life goal resolutions that you will do
  • Determine the most important things in your life and act like that is so
  • Value your time.  Each day, identify and do your most important thing first; touch things once; make “do it now” your mantra – don’t delay.  Buy and read my Power Bites book that describes all of these (OK, a subtle commercial)
  • Check your personal insurance coverage.  Make sure you have adequate liability, uninsured motorist, umbrella and workers compensation insurance at your home and the right type and amount of life insurance to provide for your family.  A suggestion is to schedule a biennial meeting with your insurance agent to review your coverage and deductibles and find out what is available that you do not have
  • Do some tax planning.  Manage investments to benefit from tax savings such as reconfiguring your investments with long-term fixed income securities in tax sheltered accounts and equities in taxable accounts, or if actively trading, put your trading activities in the tax sheltered accounts.  Consider tax free bonds if you are in the  higher tax brackets
  • Get rid of clutter – See separate checklist that follows
  • Stop being stupid. Treat your family, business and relationships the way they should be treated with the right priorities and expenditure of time and energy. Do not spend your time unwisely
  • Don’t deal with or work with “jerks.” Have a “No Jerk Rule!” Don’t suffer fools. Don’t waste time arguing with stubborn people who refuse to listen to reason or logic
  • Review or get a will – or get it updated
  • Do the same for your business buy-sell agreement which is actually a will for your business
  • Review or get a practice or business continuation agreement if you are a sole proprietor
  • Stop texting and dialing numbers when driving.  Also, slow down – getting stopped by a patrolman will eat up more time than twenty times of driving within the speed limit.  And, skip the road rage – why get mad at an a$$ hole!
  • Call former partners and friends, brothers and sisters and others you were once close with to wish them a happy new year.  Life’s too short to dissipate energy holding grudges against people whose funeral you might go to.  Clear the air – someone has to take a first step – why not you?  Why not now?
  • Go through your pile of business cards and call those you want to stay in touch with or want to rekindle a relationship with and wish them a happy new year. If you no longer care about that person, throw the card away
  • Write and mail a letter for every financial account you have informing the bank, broker, custodian or insurance company that the account should be considered active, not dormant and subject to escheat laws
  • File a claim to recover unclaimed funds the State might have for you. This should be done whether or not you are aware of funds being there
  • Go to every bank you have a safe deposit box with to show activity
  • Examine all accounts, annuities, investments to make sure they are in line with your needs and goals
  • Review professional license expiration dates and follow up that you receive renewal forms
  • Request and review a copy of your credit report
  • Change batteries in smoke and CO detectors, flash lights, clock radios and all electronic equipment where you have battery back-up
  • Review the tax assessment for your homes and if applicable start the process for tax reduction
  • Develop a disaster plan.  Make sure you have extra batteries, food that won’t spoil (such as peanut butter, crackers and canned goods), emergency numbers to call, that your valuables are documented, and that important papers, photos, health information and insurance policies are secured or digitized and kept off site
  • If you have home size fire extinguishers throughout your house make sure they are still activated.  Do not let this provide comfort to avoid reporting a fire immediately.  If you have young children, make sure they know how to call 911 to report a fire or other emergency.  For better instructions, speak with your local fire department
  • Think healthy – your body is made to travel a certain mileage with the right fuel, maintenance and care – maximize that mileage
  • Join a Gym
  • Go to the Gym you joined
  • Get your annual medical check-up this year
  • Plan to take that once in a lifetime vacation this year
  • Be nicer and don’t deal with people that are not nice
  • Be grateful for all of your Blessings!

This is a big list – but all are important and things you will wish you did if a problem develops in one of these areas.  Take care of yourself!

Start the New Year without clutter

This is a suggested list of how to declutter in the coming new year.  Some things can be sold, given away to friends or relatives, donated to a charity or thrown in the trash (while being careful to shred papers with personal and confidential information.)

  • Playbills, Reader’s Digests, National Geographics, Harvard Business Reviews and similar magazines that you just can’t part with even though you haven’t opened them in years
  • Old magazines or newspapers of “historic” events
  • The magazine pile you haven’t been able to get to
  • Stamp, coin, baseball card or similar collection that you no longer care about.  Give to someone, sell them or donate to a charity.  If you still actively collect, make arrangements for its disposal after your death
  • Art
  • Books you haven’t looked at in years, school text books, and books you received as gifts that you never read
  • High School and College notebooks
  • Old diaries
  • Trophies from your childhood or your children’s childhoods
  • Halloween costumes
  • Clothing, shoes and hats you haven’t worn in 42 years
  • All the great ties you bought, wore once or twice and are now completely out of style and even if they came back in style, you would be out of style wearing them
  • Boxes with stuff you haven’t looked at in 12 years
  • Family bikes that haven’t been used in 17 years
  • Nobody plays 33 rpm records anymore – maybe get rid of your seven boxes.  Try to sell them to a dealer
  • Old tax records, receipts, cancelled checks and brokerage statements (see my previous blog for a list of what records you should retain)
  • Plastic and straw gifts baskets, ribbons and wrapping papers
  • Dolls and teddy bears that lost their sentimentality
  • Old pet carriers (you haven’t had a dog or cat for 9 years!)
  • Expired prescription and over the counter drugs and toiletries
  • Toothbrush collection from your infrequent dentist visits over the last 50 years
  • Partially filled liquor bottles you haven’t touched in years – or start “touching” them now…
  • Old cameras
  • VHS tapes you either purchased or recorded – you no longer have a VHS machine.  If they have emotional value, such as from a wedding, bar mitzvah or christening… transfer to a DVD
  • I know you will keep the 14 boxes of photos you have, your high school yearbook and similar other important things.  Try to consolidate or digitize them
  • Your army uniform and school jersey and jacket no longer fit you – throw them out.  Also, get rid of the cleats
  • The box of stuff from the closet and drawers you cleaned out nine years ago and are actually afraid to see what’s inside
  • The hundred and seven framed prints that haven’t been on a wall since you moved from your three houses ago
  • Things and stuff – you know what these are
  • Consolidate your brokerage and IRA accounts
  • Consolidate and reduce the number of mutual funds you have. Ditto for savings and CD accounts
  • Sell or donate stocks where you own an insignificant number of shares to reduce your mail
  • If, per chance, you have stock certificates or DRIPs, send or transfer them to a brokerage account, or get rid of them by donating them to a charity
  • __________________________________________________
  • __________________________________________________

If in doubt – Declutter!

For a listing of what records to keep, go to my Dec 29, 2015 Blog.

If you want these checklists in a Word file, email me at

Thanks for reading my blogs. May you have a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!
Ed Mendlowitz

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    December 31, 2015 11:48 am

    Hi Ed good check list everyone should use itBob NAGLER

  2. Alan Zeitlin permalink
    December 31, 2015 2:39 pm

    Thanks for your always useful information and Happy New Year to you and your family.

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