We’re closing in quickly on the end of the year, and that means the holidays, snow & winter coats, gifts & family. It also means: time to take a good, hard look at your finances.
Look Back, Look Forward
It’s an ideal time to schedule an end of year review with your financial advisor to check in on the health of your finances. How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals?
Now, we’re not looking to beat ourselves up for those of us who went a little overboard, the point is to recalibrate for success. If you came in a little short, maybe your goals were unrealistic, or perhaps your advisor can work with you to create systems for motivation and accountability that will help you reach your goals next year.
And if you did reach them, congratulations! Take a moment to celebrate, and then talk with your advisor to see if that felt like a comfortable balance, or whether you can push yourself a little further next year.
Armed with new insight, your advisor can work with you to set goals for the coming year, and put together an actionable plan to get there. This is also the time to review the performance of your accounts together, and make adjustments in line with any newer goals.
Get a Head Start on Tax Season
I know, I know, that’s nobody’s idea of holiday cheer. But hear me out, it really is worth it to use a little bit of your holiday downtime organizing your expenses and receipts in anticipation of April. You’ll feel so much less stressed when the paperwork starts arriving in early 2017 and your accountant’s office is swamped.
If paper receipts and printed statements scare you, there’s a ton of software to help you with tax prep. My clients have mentioned Intuit helps them get organized and itemize their yearly expenses, but there are plenty of other tools to research and check out. Not only will you thank yourself for the peace of mind, but it pays — literally — to get on top of tax preparations early. Remember that April isn’t the only financial deadline:
Plan for Retirement
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to put some money aside to contribute to your personal retirement accounts (IRA) and make sure that you entirely max out your 401(k) by the new year. 401(k) contributions are only tax deductible in the same calendar year, so now is the time! You’ll feel much less pressure to contribute all at once to your IRA right before the tax deadline, and there’s nothing like deductions to make the extra effort and attention feel worthwhile.
Get in the Giving Spirit
It’s the perfect time to donate to your favorite charity! You can write your donations off in your taxes, and do something positive for others. After all, what are the holidays all about?
Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Deal
It’s a good idea to set a time to regularly review your monthly costs, like cable, phone, wifi, and other subscription services. It always pays to know exactly where your money is going, and while you’re at it you can give these companies a call to see if they are willing to lower your rates. You’d be surprised how far you can get simply by asking, and there may be special deals you can take advantage of if you reach out.
The last piece of the year-end review is to revisit your accounts and review your beneficiaries. Doing this the same time each year will make it a habit, and is a step you can take to ensure the choices you have in place keep up with life’s changes.