KJ: Seeing that it’s almost the end of the year, we thought it timely to include a few tips for wrapping up year-end finances.
Contribute to your IRA. While you actually have until the tax filing deadline in April 2013 to contribute to your IRA (Traditional or Roth) for 2012, fund what you can now to save the maximum $5,000, and then start on a regular monthly savings plan to reach the maximum for 2013 ($5,500). If you are over age 50, then you may be eligible to contribute more.
Develop a savings plan for next year. Take a look at what your expenses have been by category in the past year and come up with a plan for next year before it’s too late. Try trimming savings off the top of your budget and save it at the beginning of the month. Most people have trouble spending too much money when it’s in their account or treated as income, so if you save it right away, then it forces you to live on what you have left.
Estimate your taxes. If you have any savings, investment, or other items that could cause you extra taxes, then see if there may be any surprises this year. Your brokerage firm or financial planner may have information on any tax impact of your investments this year. You could also estimate your income from this year’s interest paid from your savings accounts. Interest rates are very low, so the amount may be negligible, but it is good to be prepared if you typically get a low or almost no tax refund each year. The 2012 versions of TurboTax are available, so you can estimate your taxes with the program to see how 2012 may shake out.
Check your withholding. By seeing if you have historically been paying too much to Uncle Sam, see if 2013 is the year you need to decrease your withholding. Stop giving the government an interest free loan, and keep the cash in your pockets for the whole year…or better yet…sock away the extra income in savings!
Review your FSA. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA: not to be confused with a Health Savings Account (HSA)), then make sure you have submitted and been reimbursed for medical expenses you have had for the year. With an FSA, it is a ‘use it or lose it’ account in that money left over at the end of the year is lost, so do what you need to do to use up any remaining money in the account that you can.
Create goals. Whether financial or not, create some goals for 2013. If you don’t have monetary or family goals for 2013, how do you know if you are on track? Keep your goals in front of you and know where you want to be.
Check to make sure your wills and estate plan are in order. Have you had any children or had a sudden change in your financial or physical health? If it has been some time since you last reviewed your wills, be sure to dust them off and take a look to see if anything needs to be updated.
Make a net worth statement. One of the things I like to tell people that often makes them think we’re crazy, is we have a quarterly presentation of our finances. We review how our investments are doing, how our cash flow has been (quarter-to-date and year-to-date), and what our net worth is. This helps us keep track of what we own less what we owe (cars, student loans, home loans).
Finish any last minute health concerns. Anything that needs to be addressed by the end of the year? Especially if you have met your deductible for the year, try and take care of any last minute items before the end of the year so you can maximize the use of your deductible.
Purchase Christmas decorations for 2013. Lots of retailers mark Christmas decorations and supplies on clearance once the day has passed, so take advantage of the discounted prices and purchase anything you may be needing for next year.
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