I was sitting after work watching my youngest son at football practice and noticed the extra “nip” in the air. Also, I noticed my neighbors have fall decorations at their homes in the last couple of weeks. So I started to think about what I might write about that I could relate to the start of my favorite season–fall.
My thoughts turned to the fact that we only have a few short months before the end of the year. So I thought that preparing financially for year-end might be applicable. So here it goes.
Give yourself a fall financial check-up. You may want to review your investments performance over the last few months and consider what might be appropriate to keep, or to sell for potential tax gains and losses before year-end. You may just want to look over your bank accounts and decide if you have a large enough cash reserve. Look at your spending and budget year to date. Are you on track, or overspending?
Check your life and disability coverage. Now is a good time to go back and check beneficiary designations on life policies. If you have had a baby, gotten a divorce, or just making more money, now is the time to review. Do you have any disability insurance? What does it cover and how much? Stuff we overlook till we can’t work. Review what you have personally as well as what your employer offers.
Adjust those flex-spending accounts. It’s almost time for open enrollment, so this will give you an opportunity to revisit your flex-spending plans and other benefits. If your family healthcare costs were more than you expected, now would be a good time to funnel some extra bucks to the account for next year. Make sure you use it….or you lose it.
Get ready for the holidays! Did I just say that? Yep, just a few months away. I swear every year I’m going to shop early so that I can just enjoy the season. I’m not a big procrastinator, but sometimes it can be difficult to buy for some people. Do your shopping early, to avoid the rush and pay off the bills early. In addition, now is a good time to open an old-fashioned “Christmas Club”. I’ve been using one for years and have the money automatically deposited monthly. At Halloween, I take the cash and spend for the Holidays!
Add to your retirement accounts. I say it all the time, save your money and one day it will return the favor. You cannot afford to put off saving for your own retirement. You can contribute up to $17,000 to your 401(k) in 2012; for those 50 or older, the limit is $22,500. Look at where you are and think about increasing your contributions by 1% every six months.
Get prepared for Taxmageddon. Unless Congress decides to act before year-end (fat chance!), many tax cuts will expire on 12/31. That means we will all experience a tax increase, not just the wealthy. The average increase per household is expected to be $3,800. So if you can bring in more income in 2012, do it. Don’t wait till 2013 and higher tax rates. Especially small business owners and entrepreneurs.
This list is short, but the ideas are as many as the leaves falling in your yard. Don’t wait, get busy and set some of these on your to-do list. If you want some help, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at (859) 225-2596.