The nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder, and you’re rushing to finish your annual goals. It’s a perfect time to look back on your financial year and ask yourself what you might like to change for next year. This is something you can do alone, with your spouse, or with your financial advisor. Here are a few end-of-year things to check up on.
Remember making a budget? Is it something you actually stick to, or is it more aspirational? Are certain expenses costing a lot more than you estimated? Do you need to set money aside for specific dates, such as renewing your car’s registration or paying local taxes?
You may not need to make a whole new budget, but you might need to tinker with it. You want a budget that accurately represents what you need to spend monthly. It should also be a budget you can stick to.
Check your monthly bills for things you aren’t using. Do you subscribe to Netflix but never watch it? Are the Patreons you sponsor no longer updating? Do you ever really go to the gym? Cancel what you don’t use, and allocate that money toward something you would value.
It’s early December, which means you have time to change your tax picture for the year. You might want to meet with your accountant or advisor to see what needs to be done to end the year in a good place. For instance, if you earned a lot of investment income this year, you might want to do some tax loss harvesting. That’s when you realize your losses on investments in order to balance out your gains.
It’s also your last chance to earn deductions. Take a look at what you already have to write off. Maybe it’s a good time to make a Christmas donation. Keep the receipt!
Allocations and Contributions
What are you putting toward your retirement fund each month? Could you be contributing more? If you’re younger, you likely should increase your retirement contributions annually, until you reach your contribution goal. You should also consider how your contributions are allocated. If you have a long-term plan, for instance, to lower your risk exposure over time, now is the time to make your adjustments.
You should also look at what you contribute to your HSA or FSA. Are the balances getting low, or are they going unused? You may want to increase or decrease your contributions.
Are your insurance policies still covering your needs? If you’ve acquired something new in the past year, you should make sure your homeowners’ policy covers it. You should look over your life insurance as well and make sure your coverage is still enough.
If your health insurance isn’t covering what you need, now is the time to change it: open enrollment in the marketplace lasts through January 15.
If you stuck to your budget all year, you might have a very healthy savings account by now. But a savings account isn’t the best place to keep large amounts of cash. Do yourself a favor and put the amount you won’t immediately use into higher-yield accounts, such as CDs or bonds.
How Does Your End-of-Year Checklist Look?
If you’ve checked off all these items, you have a clearer picture of your finances in 2022. Now you can take any steps you’ve set for yourself, and then you’ll be ready for 2023. To make a financial plan for the coming year, or to find out how you could be investing more, make an appointment with a financial advisor. We can connect you with the right person for you with a quick phone call.To learn more about end-of-year financial tips, sign up for our webinar on December 14. Our guest Jeff Costa will walk you through the steps to evaluate your finances at the end of every year.