Every year around the holiday season, it’s easy to get busy and put your finances on the back burner. However, that period as the year comes to a close is the perfect time to take care of a few things that wrap up the current year and start the new year off on the right foot. We’ve put together some important financial reminders that you can use as a checklist to ensure you’re on track.
Check your Flexible Spending Account (FSA): FSAs are subject to a “use it or lose it” provision. That usually means you need to spend any money in your FSAs within your plan year or forfeit the money. Check your employer plan dates and rules as some may offer one of two types of extensions, but both are limited.
Check your health insurance deductible: If you’re enrolled in a health plan with a deductible and have had enough expenses this year to push you over the deductible, now is the time to squeeze in any final health spending before your deductible resets for the new year.
Review retirement plan contributions: If you haven’t been contributing to your 401(k) plan at a level that gets you the maximum match, check with your employer to see if there is an opportunity to increase your contributions before year-end to avoid leaving money on the table.
Check for higher savings interest rate: Interest rates have been on the rise recently so take a peek at what interest rate you are receiving on your savings and consider shopping around for higher rates.
Review insurance coverage: Check your auto, home, liability (umbrella), etc. insurance to be sure you are appropriately covered and that you’re not overpaying. Talk to your insurance agent about increasing deductibles to save on premiums and removing unnecessary features in your policies. Don’t forget to comparison-shop among insurance companies every few years.
Review beneficiaries: If you’ve had any life changes such as a marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child or grandchild, now is a good opportunity to make sure the beneficiaries you’ve designated in your life insurance, will, bank accounts and retirement accounts are up-to-date.
Update budget / goals: Adjust your budget and goals to reflect any changes in your job, life and circumstances. Look for opportunities to automate bill paying and savings.
Check credit report: You’re entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit agencies. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com if it’s been a while since you’ve checked yours.
Prepare for taxes/ gather documents: Create a folder (paper, electronic, or both) to start collecting tax documents as you receive them. Start with last year’s tax returns as a guide for what to expect: W-2, 1099’s (INT, DIV, MISC, etc), 1098’s (mortgage interest, tuition paid), charitable contribution receipts, property taxes paid (home, cars), Individual Retirement Account (IRA) / Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions, student loan interest, medical expenses, etc.