The end of the year is fast approaching and it's a great time to take steps that can help improve your personal finances. Some items to consider:
- If you're not retired, review your contributions to retirement accounts such as 401ks, IRAs, HSAs. Don’t forget about the step up contributions for those over 50.
- If you or your spouse is 70½ or older, Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) must be taken before Dec 31. Otherwise you could incur an additional 50% penalty tax.
- Make charitable contributions that you want to be able to claim as a deduction on this year’s tax forms. Remember that the standard deduction has doubled so you may not benefit from itemizing donations for this year. Consider donating appreciated stock, Bunching your donations, or Qualified Charitable Distributions.
- Consider Roth conversion from your pre-tax retirement accounts.
- Compare this year's spending against your budget and make any necessary adjustments for next year.
- Do you expect to earn more next year? Consider putting all or part of your expected increase into savings.
- Check your asset allocation and make any necessary changes.
- Harvest capital losses but be mindful of wash sale rules.
- Check your withholdings to make sure you don’t have a surprise in April, apps.irs.gov/app/tax-withholding-estimator
- Check your credit reports: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each of the national credit-reporting agencies is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, upon request, once every 12 months. Get yours at annualcreditreport.com
- Take some time to define your family's financial goals and concerns for next year: Do you want to save more for retirement? Or for college?, Is a particular budget category consistently over-budget?, Do you expect any unusually large bills next year such as college tuition or a new roof?
Taking the time to address these items now can better position yourself for successful close to 2018 and help plan for a financially strong upcoming year.