The end of the year is quickly closing in, and there is no better time than now to take inventory of your financial situation. Evaluating, budgeting, and planning your finances is not a static activity, but rather endeavors that need attention on a regular basis in order to be successful.
With a new year about to begin, consider the following year-end financial planning techniques in order to end strong and start your new year with your best foot forward:
1. Evaluate This Year’s Financial Plan Progress: If you created a financial plan for this year, now is a great time to assess the goals you set to achieve. What did you accomplish for the year so far, and what goals can you complete in the time remaining? If there are long-term financial goals that you didn’t meet, consider moving them to next year’s financial plan if they are still relevant.
2. Don’t Forget About your 401(k): Does your employer match your 401(k) plan contributions? If so, you don’t won’t want to miss out those helpful tax deductions. Also, you don’t want to miss contributing the maximum amount you can to your 401(k) and taking advantage of the ‘free money’ match from your employer. Because each company has different matching limits, be sure to check with HR as soon as possible.
3. Use the Balance of Your Flexible Savings Account (FSA): If you have an FSA, then now is the time to check your unspent balance, as some plans have a policy that will cause you to lose your money at the end of the year if it isn’t spent. If you do have a balance, consider getting that checkup you have been putting off, treat yourself to a new pair of eyeglasses, visit a chiropractor or acupuncturist, or stock up on meds and travel/health items for an upcoming holiday vacation.
4. Review Insurance Coverage: If you have life, health, disability, homeowners, or long-term care insurance, make some room in your schedule to review all of your policies. When it comes to your life insurance policy, evaluate any life events that have happened this past year that might warrant an increase in your policy amount.
5. Review or Create Estate Planning Documents: Your wishes can change over time, and your will or other estate planning documents should reflect your current desires. Take time at the end of each year to review your trusts and wills; if you don’t have them yet, then don’t delay. Unexpected deaths can put a family’s finances in jeopardy if a will wasn’t left behind.
6. Review Expenses: Many people are unsure of how much money they spend each month and what they are spending it on. If you keep receipts of where your money goes each month, review these items to discover how much of your money goes to each category (housing, food, transportation, clothing, recreation, etc.). This will give you an opportunity to fine-tune areas where you are frivolously spending. And, if you haven’t kept track of your monthly spending, the new year is a perfect time to begin this healthy and helpful habit!
7. Have a Conversation with Your Tax Advisor: Before tax season hits early next year, take a few minutes to speak with your tax advisor about potential ways to save on your tax bill by taking action this year.
To achieve your financial goals, staying on top of financial planning is necessary and never-ending. The end of year is an ideal time to assess your current situation and determine what changes can help you better reach your goals next year.
Want to find other ways to fine-tune your financial plan? Contact us to see how we can help create a financial plan that will provide the highest level of financial stability and security you desire for your family.
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- 10 Quick Year-end Financial Planning Tips