Year-end is a great time to establish an action plan for good financial health all year long. Evaluating your financial picture at the end of the year may reveal opportunities or areas for improvement that you hadn’t considered throughout the rest of the year. As we enter the holiday season, consider making an annual financial check-up an annual tradition.
Here are three tips as you ring in the new year.
2021 has been labeled as “The Great Resignation” as millions of Americans changed jobs, careers and industries altogether. If your career pivoted this past year, you may want to take time to recalibrate and establish firm financial footing for next year.
Review your 401(k):
Recently, the IRS announced some changes to the 401(k) limit that will make it possible to save more money for retirement. Beginning in 2022, the contribution limit for an employee that participates in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans increased $1,000. The limit in 2022 is now $20,500, up from 2021’s limit of $19,500. If you were contributing the maximum in 2021 and want to continue doing this or start in 2022, you will want to review and adjust your contributions to take full advantage of the higher limit.
Make sure you are covered with health care:
A Health Savings Account (HSA) allows you to save and spend money tax free on qualified healthcare expenses. One key benefit of an HSA is they automatically roll over year to year. If you currently hold a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), make sure to spend the funds in this calendar year as they don’t carry over year to year.
Review your insurance policies:
If you landed a promotion or if your home appreciated in value in 2021, you may have more to protect today than you did at the start of this year. Life insurance ensures that you can protect your family if your life circumstances change. Insurance can have multiple functions depending on your age and your current status in life. Most insurance agents don’t have information on your full financial picture and they’re trying to sell you specific products. However, working with your independent financial advisor to secure life and long-term care insurance can ensure you’re covered – but not over-insured – for your life ahead.
Avoid tax surprises:
If you collected unemployment compensation and didn’t fill out a W-4V form from the IRS for voluntary withholding, taxes may not have been withheld from the checks you received. Additionally, taking advantage of or opting out of the new monthly Advance Child Tax Credit, could also impact your tax withholding. To avoid any surprises, talk with your tax advisor now.
TAX-SMART CHARITABLE GIVING
If you are considering a charitable gift, there are a couple of strategies you can take that will maximize your contributions and minimize your taxes.
If you are going to itemize your deductions, you need for them to total more than the 2021 standard tax deductions. This year allows for $12,550 for single filers and for those married individuals who file separately. If you are married and file a joint return, the deduction increases to $25,100 and if you are a head of household filer it is $18,800. If you don’t itemize your taxes, you can still deduct $600 of charitable donations for married filing jointly and $300 for other filers in the 2021 tax year.
If you plan to donate the same amount of money to a charity each year, consider “bunching,” or consolidating tax-deductible charitable contributions, into a single year. This bulk donation could increase your potential itemized deduction for that year.
REVISE OR ESTABLISH A BUDGET
Year-end is a great time to review 2021 spending and create a plan for 2022. A budget helps to keep you accountable and prioritize what is most important to you. A financial advisor can help you create a budget as part of your broader plan.
Establish an emergency fund:
Aim to have three to six months of living expenses saved, in case an unexpected event occurs. Having this money accessible for surprise expenses allows you to live comfortably – debt free.
Prepare for big events:
If you are preparing for a wedding, medical procedure, a new home or even a fun family vacation, you can set aside money for these expenses and build them into your budget.
We know your financial picture is unique and different. This isn’t an exhaustive list of what you could review at the end of the year, but it’s a great place to start.
If you are needing assistance with any of the items above, our values-based approach helps you identify your priorities and lays a foundation for your financial goals. We enjoy educating in an easy-to-understand way so that people can have a good grasp of their unique situation and their specific goals. We are committed to help fuel your climb to excellence