Year-End Financial Planning and Preparation
Suddenly the air is cooler, and I'm getting that "back-to-school" feeling even though its been years since I've gone back to school. But there are things I'm hoping to get done in the next month to help me prepare for next year. Might be a good time for you as well.
Fall is Financial Preparedness Season
If you have a financial planner, Fall is a great time to check in with them and get their thoughts on the following topics. Some changes require forms being submitted, or review by your planner/advisor. They could take time for completion. To avoid a crunch and a longer wait later, get started now and you'll be ready for year end.
- Turning 70 1/2 next year? You need to think about minimum distributions from traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans.
- Still waiting to make your charitable donations for the year? Select recipients and make your donation. They'll appreciate it, and you could have some tax deductions to take advantage of.
- Is it open enrollment time for benefits? Collect information and discuss your options, then make the best selections for you and your family. Compare available insurance plans, and check into workplace retirement plans to take full advantage of any matching funds. If you don't you're leaving money on the table.
- If your FSA account ends at the end of the year, make sure to spend that money. Eye exams, teeth cleaning, chiropractor visits, new glasses, and annual exams are a great way to use up these funds! Remember, with flex accounts, if you don't spend it, you lose it. Elective surgeries, or procedures you've been putting off may cost more than your remaining flex account holds, but if that's the case, now may be the perfect time to consider increasing your flex account for next year.
No financial planner? Bellwether Community Credit Union offers all of our members access to a Financial Planner and a free financial assessment. Read more on our website.
Set up a folder for tax related paperwork. Forms and documents will start arriving over the next few months. Setting aside a special folder now and putting things in as they arrive is a safe way stay organized, whether you do your own taxes or have someone else do them.
Establish Next Year's Budget
If you don't already have one, consider setting up a budget for your household for next year. Look at your full year's bills, utilities, rent/mortgage, vacation, holiday shopping, school costs, groceries, car payments, etc and make this the year that you plan ahead, and live within your means! Maybe even set up a plan to get that credit card debt paid down or those student loans on a trend to getting paid off!
- Establish your holiday spending budget now and decide where those funds are coming from.
- If you haven't already, consider opening a holiday/club account at your local credit union so next year you'll know exactly how much you're spending and where those funds will be coming from.
Share Financial Knowledge with Your Children
Discuss budgeting with your children and set up savings accounts for them as appropriate.
Now may be a good time to discuss allowances, technology, online safety and other topics with your children. Just a refresher as you head into the new year with a refreshed focus on making this next year better than ever!
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