Photo of woman reviewing her 2020 financial calendar on her smartphone

2021 key financial dates to add to your calendar

Want to set a goal—and then actually reach it? Research says you’ll have a better chance of success if you write it down, and maybe even share it with someone.

When it comes to your money goals, add these 2021 key financial dates, one per month, into your calendar right now. They’re tangible (and quick) to-dos that help you make a real difference in your financial life, from boosting savings to organizing paperwork.

We made a version you can save to your desktop or print (PDF).

Thumbnail of the financial goals worksheet.

January: Set your 2021 financial goal(s).

To do: Establish one short-term and one long-term goal by mid-month. (Short could be, start an emergency fund with $100. Long could be, pay off one credit card by year’s end.)

Mark it down: Make 2020 fourth quarter estimated tax payments by January 15 if you’re self-employed or underpaying based on your income.

February: Avoid tax-time worries.

To do: On the day you receive W-2s and interest and dividend statements (usually the first week of the month), file them.

Bonus: Make a date with your 401(k). Log in to check progress and see if you can give it some love by increasing your contributions.

 ​March: Get strategic with extra funds.

To do: Put a date in March to allocate any tax refunds, bonuses, or pay increases you might get (our fun-sponsible method is a good place to start).

Mark it down: For Medicare enrollees, remember that March 31 is the last day to apply for Parts A and B for coverage begins in July.

 April: Learn to love tax time.

To do: File as soon as you can, but definitely before Thursday, April 15. Need an extension to mid-October? Use IRS Form 4868 (PDF).

Bonus: April is also Financial Literacy Month. Give kids a jump start with resources provided by the non-profit National Endowment for Financial Education.

 May: Figure out your debt load.

To do: Use this month’s calendar check-in to detail how much you owe and your debt-to-income ratio. Aim for about 36% or less of your pre-tax income as all of your debt. Use this worksheet (PDF).

 June: Earn an “A” for college prep.

To do: June 30 is the all-important final date to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the 2021-2022 school year. The FAFSA helps determine your child’s eligibility for financial aid. States and colleges may have their own deadlines; look yours up on the Federal Student Aid website.

Mark it down: Make second quarter estimated tax payments by June 15 if you’re self-employed or underpaying based on your income.

 July: Boost your budget IQ.

To do: Midyear is a great time to review your budget. Are you hitting spending and saving targets, and if not, how can you adjust before year’s end?

Bonus: Set up auto pay on one bill that you’ve been late on the past year.

 August: Smarten up your credit score.

To do: Set a calendar reminder to check your credit score using one of the three free credit check services: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Bonus: Review your budget to see if you can fit in extra to set up an IRA or 401(k).

 September: Brush up on benefits.

To do: Enrollment period for employer benefits typically starts in the fall and lasts from four to six weeks. Set a reminder to review your health election, 401(k), and other employee benefits like life and disability insurance.

Mark it down: Make third quarter estimated tax payments by September 15 if you’re self-employed or underpaying based on your income.

 October: Get some college extra credit.

To do: Although you can wait until June to file a FAFSA, you can actually start October 1. (Some colleges award on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Mark it down: Did you file for an extension on your taxes? If so, October 15 is your new deadline.

 November: Get ahead of student loans.

To do: These usually kick in six months after graduation. So, if you graduated college in May, they may be due soon. Check out these three tips for managing debt.

Mark it down: November 1 is the opening day of the federal health insurance marketplace enrollment for 2021 coverage.

 December: Help your health.

To do: Enroll or change plans for 2021 federal health coverage by December 15.

Mark it down: In the past, the government has required retirees older than 72 (70½ for those who attained age 70½ prior to January 2020) to take required minimum distribution (RMDs) annually from retirement accounts by December 31 or the following April 1 for their first RMD, depending on when you turn 72. That requirement was suspended in 2020 after passage of the CARES Act. RMDs for 2021 are not impacted by the suspension and will resume absent additional legislative relief.

 Your birthday

  • Gift your financial future: Boost a retirement or savings account with a one-time deposit—even $100.
  • Turning 55 or older? Check out our list of retirement milestones.
  • If you turn 26 this year, you’ll get kicked off your parents’ health insurance plan. Add a reminder to your calendar to sign up through your employer or explore plans at healthcare.gov.

Next steps

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, or accounting obligations and requirements.

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are not an affiliate of any company of the Principal Financial Group.

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Co. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-547-7754, member SIPC. Principal Life and Principal Securities are members of Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. 

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