Do These 7 Things Before 2018 to Start the New Year Right

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This post is sponsored by All work and opinions are my own.

I love this time of the year: after the excitement and excess of the holidays comes the new year. New goals, a new start, new experiences, new dreams. But before all of that… there are still the last few days of the old year. If you’re ready to kick some butt in the new year, there are a few things that you can do in these last, waning days to prepare.

Don’t worry– it’s all harmless, and it’s all stuff you can do easily. And once you finish these tasks, it’ll feel awesome! (And you’ll be ready to ring in the new year, already having accomplished some things for the year ahead, and already having closed out some things for the year behind.)

Because there's nothing like starting the new year fresh, milspouse, military, advice #ad

1. Max out your charitable contributions

Have a favorite nonprofit or charity? PCSing soon? Giving donations in the form of money and/or goods can help your tax return next year; just make sure you do it before January 1. You’ll need receipts and you’ll need to keep them together. If you don’t have a filing system for charitable contributions, now’s a perfect time to start one as well.

2. Go on a spending spree

If you have a flex spending account (FSA), you may have money that you need to spend by December 31, if your employer doesn’t allow any carryovers. Money in FSAs do not usually roll over and can’t be refunded.  (If you have an health spending account–HSA– you might have money, too, but these typically roll over, so you don’t have to worry about losing the money.)So how can you use this money? I’ll give you one solid option for military families that have FSAs: Purchasing glasses, contacts, prescription glasses, and certain eyecare products.

If you have an FSA, this is a perfect way to spend money on something that your other benefits don’t cover, since TRICARE doesn’t cover glasses or contacts for family members. (Here’s the proof on TRICARE’s website.)

If you’re looking to use that cash before you lose it, check out and … who also have a military discount, ship APO/FPO, and have a bunch of other money-saving perks! To use their military discount, the code MILITARY works for 10% off. If you purchase contact lenses, will ship for free for purchases $99 and over. (And yes, it does work. I use for prescription glasses and sunglasses.) If you’re a new customer on, you can get 20% off through their newsletter. (Repeat customers can keep their eyes peeled for 10 or 15% off coupons, too.)

Remember my Ebates trick? is currently offering an additional 7.5% cash back and is offering 5% cash back. You can use that on top of the discounts and free shipping. (Read more about and on my other blog post about my glasses.)

Paying for your eyewear with your FSA is easy too. If you have a debit card, you can just use that on any purchases that are marked with an FSA-approved logo.  If you don’t have a debit card, you can submit for reimbursement by submitting your purchase confirmation page to your FSA account administrator. Just make sure you submit your order by December 31 to be eligible for reimbursement.

3. Schedule important appointments

If it’s been awhile since you’re last physical, women’s check-up, or dental exam, spend a few minutes now making the necessary appointments for next year. Have kids? This is a great time to schedule appointments for them, too. (And since you’re checking up on important things, the end of the year is a great time to ensure that all of your information is updated in DEERS, too.)

4. Update your resume

A new year, a new PCS, a new job? For military spouses, especially, keeping a resume updated (and an online portfolio updated, if you have one) is a smart move, and the new year is a great reminder to keep things sparkling. And if you’re in the market for a brand-new job, the new year is the perfect time to do some soul-searching and some exploration. Need career resources? Find some for military spouses here.

5. Make a goal

It doesn’t have to be a resolution. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly long-term goal. But making a goal for yourself– one thing that you can achieve this coming year will make you focus and clear away a little of the end-of-the-year cobwebs. Yay for new beginnings!

Because there's nothing like starting the new year fresh, milspouse, military, advice #ad

6. Compile a bug-out bag

Whether you’ve just PCSed or you’ve been in the same place for awhile, take this time to make sure that you’ve prepared for emergencies. Not sure how to do that? has a premade bug-out bag checklist that you can use– all you need to do is put it together. The new year is also a great time to check on your emergency supplies, if you’ve already stored them. Check any medicines and foodstuffs you have for expiration and rotate and replace as necessary.

7. Clean out one thing

Doing a deep clean of your entire house can be really daunting– and if you’re dealing with deployment or a PCS or something else– if it can feel impossible. So choose one thing–a pantry, a closet, your bedroom– to clean up, clean out, and organize. This is the perfect opportunity to also donate what you don’t need and don’t want to charity before the end of the year.

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