End of Year Financial Checklist
The end of the year is around the corner and along with holidays, great food, and seeing family and friends, you should be thinking about some financial homework. Here is a list of stuff we think you should be reviewing every November and December.
The last couple months of the year are a great time to begin gathering some tax information.
Your 1099s for income, 1098s for deductable expenses, W2s etc will be heading your way in late January to Early February. Keep an eye out for them.
Begin putting together reciepts on charitable deductions, energy efficient improvements, home or rental property expenses and any other deductible expenses.
Flex Spending Accounts
Don't forget that if you have balances left in your flex spending/dependent care accounts the balance may disappear at the end of the year if not used. So this will be one of the few times you hear a wealth advisor say this, but SPEND IT ALL before the end of the year if you are going to lose it.
Tax Harvesting of Investments
If you need to have your investments rebalanced to account for all of the growth US equities have had over the last few years, look into your gains and lossess in detail. What you want to do is take losses to offset against gains in the process of rebalancing. Be aware of wash sale rules if you are doing this kind of movement and as always talk to your tax and financial folks if you have any questions.
Review Expenses: The end of the year is a great time to review your basic expenses for the coming year. In retirement it is really important to have a good spending plan for the next year or two. If there is a big vacation, a special event or purchase, a new car, or anything of the like, lets plan for it.
Review Income Sources: The 4th quarter is when pensions, social security, and annuities give you their revisions for the coming year. For example this year, we know social security will be increasing a bit for most folks. Check with your providers to see if they are giving any boosts to income in the coming year.
Review Distributions From Retirement Plans: Based on the 2 items above you may find it necessary to revise how much and where distributions are coming from. Additionally, if you are near age 70 1/2, it is time to begin thinking about required minimum distributions from retirement accounts. Planning now is important to help maintain correct distributions in the coming year.
Charitable: If you plan on gifting to charity, there are important tax considerations to be thought through. You should talk to your tax advisors about the value of making those gifts prior to year end versus waiting until the coming year.
Family: For 2014 any one person can make a gift of $14,000 to any other person with no tax consequences. If gifting is part of your estate transfer plans or otherwise, this is a good time to review how much you want to gift and where you are relative to that $14,000 number for the current tax year.
Review Savings Goals
Review how you did relative to your savings goals for the current year. The end to the year is also a great opportunity to prepare your plans for the coming year. Did you get a bonus or a raise? Did you buy a new house or do you want to soon? Did you grow your family? Did you go through a divorce or other life changing event. All of these things require revisions of your savings goals and plans.
Don't put off financial homework. Out of sight, out of mind only adds stress when referring to financial homework. Face the tasks head on, knock them out, and enjoy your holidays without worry of financial unknowns.