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Dividing your year into quarters can help your finances

Peter and Maria Hoey for The Boston Globe

Want to make good on your New Year’s resolution to improve your personal finances? Grab your calendar. With 354 days left in 2015, it can be an incredibly effective financial planning tool.

Begin by filling in key tax filing dates: April 15 for federal and state income taxes, Oct. 15 if you file a tax extension, and estimated tax payments on Jan. 15, April 15, June 15, and Sept. 15. Then write in birthdays, particularly those with financial consequences such as 59½, when you can tap retirement accounts without penalty.

Set aside time for tackling important financial planning tasks such as reviewing household budgets, revising estate plans, or updating insurance coverage. Don’t forget to schedule financial housekeeping tasks such as organizing files, scanning documents, and adjusting withholding. Finally, note big expenditures — such as tuition bills — that might require additional cash on hand.

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When you’re done, you’ll have a guide to financial tasks quarter-by-quarter, month-by-month, week-by-week, and day-by-day. The concept isn’t new. Businesses do financial planning by the quarter, setting goals and measuring results. Yet individuals too often ignore the calendar until an important deadline looms.

So, turn to a financial-planning guide based on the 2015 calendar (Page G4). Some may opt to use an old fashioned paper calendar; others may prefer programs like Outlook or Google Calendar that send automatic reminders. Not all tasks come with firm deadlines, but don’t just skip them. Instead, grant yourself an extension and reschedule for a future date.


Lynn Asinof can be reached at lasinof@journalist.com.