Prepare for Year-End
While it might seem a little early to be thinking about getting your finances ready for year-end, it’s actually the perfect time since there’s still time to take action without the distraction of the holidays.
Speaking of holidays, one of the first things you should do is figure out your gift-giving budget. Who will you be giving gifts to this year? Do you have any ideas in mind? October brings sales on outdoor and seasonal items (i.e. camping gear and grills) and Columbus Day sales focus on clothing and accessories. It’s a lot easier to take advantage of discounts when you know what you want to buy. Have you been contributing to a Christmas Club Account? How much have you saved? Having a budget will help you keep spending under control. (Plan for 2020 holidays by opening a Christmas Club Account. Starting the year holiday debt-free is a great feeling!)
Are you ready for winter? (Is anyone?) Specifically, are your vehicle and home ready for cold weather? Even if you rent, there are steps you can take to make sure your home is ready for winter. (see chart) To prepare your car:
- Have your oil changed and top off all fluids
- Replace windshield wipers if necessary
- Inspect, and perhaps replace, your tires
- Check belts and hoses
- Put together an emergency kit, just in case.
Evaluate the state of your Health Savings Account (HSA) and health insurance. Have you used your limit for vision and dental services? If not, schedule those appointments before the year-end rush. Many employers offer special contributions for routine physicals, so check with your HR department to see if there are benefits you can receive before year-end.
While you're at it, review your account information for tax purposes. Is the address correct? Are you maximizing your contributions in order to take advantage of potential tax savings? (For specifics, please discuss with your tax advisor.)
Image courtesy of HomeAdvisor
Finally, this is a great time to evaluate how 2019 tax law changes will affect you. There’s still time to change your withholding allowances, adjust contributions to accounts like HSAs and retirement accounts, or make charitable contributions. If you received a new mortgage in 2019, have you filed for your homestead exemption at the county courthouse? Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was made available 10/1. Are there items you need to address to help you maximize the amount of aid you receive? As you can see, this is the perfect time to make an appointment with your tax or financial advisor, or both.
As they say, time flies, so take the time today to save yourself from a year-end scramble. Your future self, and your wallet, will thank you.