As we approach the holiday season and end of year, now is the time to start thinking about how to close out the year strong financially. There are some tax considerations, as well as some financial planning ideas which you would be wise to think about now! Here are 5 items to check off your financial checklist in November.
1) Don't forget your RMD
If you are age 70 1/2 or older and you have a Traditional IRA or 401(k), the IRS requires a yearly distribution, the dollar amount of which is based on a couple of different factors. This is called the required minimum distribution, or RMD. This is taxable income so be sure when you take the distribution you set some aside for Uncle Sam. If you aren’t sure what your RMD is for the year or how much to withhold for taxes, you may want to consult with a financial advisor.
Check out our blog post on QCDs if you haven’t yet taken your RMD. You might find this tax strategy beneficial if you qualify.
2) Save on holiday shopping
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Throwback Thursday, Sunday Funday… Okay, not sure about those last two, but there are lots of deals to be had every holiday season. Maybe you are the type that likes to sleep in a tent in a parking lot on Thanksgiving night to get the Black Friday door buster deals, or maybe you're the type that prefers to stay far away from that and shop online from the comfort of your own home. Regardless, if you have your Christmas lists ready and a plan in place, you can experience major savings on your shopping list if you go at it on one of those two days.
Additionally, it helps to make a plan to know what to budget for. Make a list of everyone you need to shop for, then budget in a little extra for someone you may have forgotten.
3) Have a year-end tax plan
As we close out the year, are you sure about your tax plan for 2018? Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to tax season. Tax surprises are rarely fun. Now is the time to get with a professional and do some tax projections because you still have time to put strategies in place to minimize your tax liability for 2018.
4) Spend down that Health Flexible Spending Account
As you may know, if you have a FSA through your work, you may have allocated a certain number of pre-tax dollars to be spent specifically on healthcare costs. These are typically “use it or lose it” in a calendar year which means you have to spend it by December 31 or you’ll lose the funds. If you don’t need to visit the doctor or dentist again this year, it may be time to go stock up the medicine cabinet! Just know some OTC drugs may still require a doctor’s prescription in order to be FSA eligible. Check with your physician for more information.
5) Give thanks!
Final item on our November financial checklist, don't forget to give thanks! As we approach the craziness of the holiday season it can be easy to forget to pause and reflect back on our many blessings. Did you know if you make $32,400 or more per year, you are in the top 1% highest-income earners in the world?! We are the richest nation in terms of dollars, but just 18th in terms of overall happiness. According to Harvard Health, happiness (or lack of it) can be attributed to a spirit of gratitude. So we encourage this! As we look back over the past year, we are grateful for many things as well, most importantly, our many clients who we have the pleasure of serving.