The holiday season always brings lots of excitement, from parties and family time to opening presents on Christmas Day. While we’re all pretty much consumed with the festivities of the season, it’s also important to remember that the new year is right around the corner.
Amongst all the many things you have to think about, your finances will probably be a big part of your upcoming year. Everyone has goals they want to accomplish and you want to make sure that your finances are able to support you on the way.
As you enjoy the last few weeks of the year, start to think about what you need to do to set yourself up for a better new year financially. Let’s take a look at your financial wrap-up for the year end:
Check In With Your Financial Advisor
If you have a financial advisor, the end of the year is a great time to schedule a meeting with her. Take a look back at the the year past, review your investments and the performance of your portfolio. Make notes of what worked and what didn’t and plan to make adjustments accordingly. Just be aware that every investment will have its ups and downs so don’t make changes solely based on short term performance. It’s also a good time to talk to your advisor about any big life changes coming up or investments/expenses you foresee so that they can help you start planning ahead.
Plan Out Big Expenses
Your day-to-day expenses are easier to plan for since you pretty much know how much you want to spend when it comes to things like food and clothing. It’s much harder to account for the bigger things like housing, transportation or vacations because so much of that depends on things outside of your control. For the most part, it’s best to overestimate so try to plan out future large expenses as much as possible. Think about whether you expect your situation to change in the next 12 months and if you need to upgrade your housing. Start planning your yearly vacation as soon as possible so that you can better gage expenses. The more you know now, the easier your financial planning will be in the future.
Consider Donating to Charity
The holiday season is a great time to give to those who are in need. And it is also a great way to get a substantial tax deduction. If you plan to donate non-cash items over $250, be sure to get an itemized receipt and details of the items. Once tax time rolls around next year, don’t forget to log these in. So if you’re planning to make a charitable donation soon, it’s best to do it before December 31st to reap the tax benefits.
Contribute to Your Retirement Accounts
Take a look at your retirement accounts before the year ends. How much have you saved this year and are you on track for retirement? It’s also a good time to reassess your goals and really think about whether you’re investing in the right areas to get to retirement. Also, if you can, consider making additional contributions to your retirement account. For instance, have you made the maximum contribution of $5,500 to your IRA yet this year? If not, you have until the tax filing date of the next year to still do so.
Use Up Your FSA Funds
FSAs or flexible spending accounts are very helpful to save on items you might use on an everyday basis. But if you don’t use it, you lose the funds in it. So check your account. Do you still have money in there? Make sure you spend everything before December 31st.
These are just a few basic things you should think about as the year ends. Finances might not be on the top of your mind right now, but giving it some attention will set you up for a better year ahead.
Editor’s Note: I’ve begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I’m only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it’s much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.
They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it’s free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.
Originally posted at https://moneyning.com/money-tips/new-year-financial-wrap-up/