By: Colleen Weber
News and Updates
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By Colleen Weber, CFP®, CPA
If you’re like most Americans, you spend the month of December neck-deep in Christmas parties, shopping for gifts, and planning for travel. You probably only think about your finances when you look at your credit card statements and see how much you’ve spent this season.
But since finance-related resolutions are always a popular choice, (1) why don’t you give yourself a head start on your 2020 financial goals? Here are 5 critical financial actions you’ll be glad you tackled when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve!
1. Celebrate Victories And Set New Goals
What financial goals did you set when you rung in 2019? Did you stay on top of those goals or did they get swept under the rug? Take this time to reflect on the past year and mark how far you’ve come, celebrating your progress, no matter how small! Then evaluate your saving and spending from the past year, set some new goals, and adjust your financial plan, taking into account any life changes such as marriage, relocation, or a job change.
2. Maximize Your Savings
If possible, max out your contributions to your 401(k) by the end of the year to make the most of your retirement savings. For 2019, you can contribute as much as $19,000 (or $25,000 if you are age 50 or older). Remember, these are your contribution limits and any employer match would be in addition to this. You might also consider contributing to a Roth IRA. For 2019, you can contribute as much as $6,000 (or $7,000 if you are age 50 or older). Finish the year strong by investing in your future!
3. Speak to Your Advisor About Tax Loss Harvesting
If you invest in bonds, mutual funds, or stocks in accounts other than your 401(k) or IRA, review your realized and unrealized gains and losses. You might be able to offset some of your gains by selling some losses. Tax-loss harvesting can help you save on taxes, but you want to make sure the move also makes financial sense for your situation. Talk with your advisor about potentially harvesting your losses to see if it makes sense for you. Any appropriate actions need to be taken by December 31st.
4. Make Some Updates
To your estate plan and insurance coverage, that is. If you have taken the time and energy to create an estate plan, you’ll want to check in periodically to ensure all the documents are up to date and no major details have changed. Any significant life event is a good time to think about updating your estate plan documents. If you change any of the beneficiaries in one place, such as a life insurance policy, make sure that they are consistent with the other documents so that there is no confusion.
Your insurance needs may have changed as the year has gone on, which is why it’s important to regularly review your insurance coverages and your designated beneficiaries to make sure they are up to date and reflect your current financial situation. For example, if you’ve paid off debt and your youngest child has just graduated from college, you may not need as much life insurance coverage since your family’s needs and liabilities have decreased. You might also want to evaluate your need for other types of insurance you may not currently have, such as long-term care insurance.
5. End The Year On A Generous Note
If gifting is one of your long-term financial goals, it’s never too early to start planning for the legacy you want to leave your loved ones without sharing a good portion of it with Uncle Sam.
Each year you can gift up to $15,000 to as many people as you wish without those gifts counting against your lifetime exemption of $11.4 million. If you’ve yet to gift this year or haven’t reached the $15,000 limit for a particular recipient, make sure you do this by December 31st.
If you’re planning to itemize deductions on your 2019 tax return, be sure to make your charitable contributions before the end of the year. This includes donating appreciated securities, which may help you avoid paying taxes on the gains. Along with your other tax documents, find and organize any receipts you have from donations to charities, whether made in cash, as a securities contribution, or other type of gift.
End The Year Strong
Which of these steps do you need to take before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve? I would love to help you finish the year strong and set you up for a successful 2020. Book a free introductory meeting online so we can discuss ways we can work together to make 2020 your best year yet!
Colleen Weber is a fee-only financial advisor, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and CPA with more than 15 years of financial planning experience. Providing comprehensive financial planning and wealth management, she specializes in serving clients nearing retirement, retirees, busy professionals, and women. She is passionate about developing financial plans that save clients on taxes, and investment strategies that help them pursue their goals. Learn more about Colleen by connecting with her on LinkedIn or booking a complimentary phone call meeting.