The holiday season is around the corner, and with the busy days ahead, 2018 will be here before you know it. Amidst all the action, we understand how easy it is to wait until the New Year to consider financial changes. But taking a few steps now could help you reduce your tax liabilities—and start January on a stronger financial foot.
Consider completing the following tasks before 2017 is over:
- Make Charitable Donations
Giving to nonprofits you care about can be a powerful way to share joy during the holiday season while benefiting your financial life. Make donations before December 31, so you can apply them to your 2017 tax liabilities. And remember that you can give more than just cash. If you donate appreciated securities, buy tickets to charity events, or give goods to a qualified charity, your gift may be tax deductible. Talk to your tax advisor for more details on your unique circumstances.
- Use Your FSA
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) can make paying for healthcare more cost efficient—but the funds in them typically have a set shelf life. If you have an FSA, you probably are unable to carry over any remaining balance to 2018. Verify the deadline for using the funds in your account, and make sure you spend them in time. From new eyewear to dental procedures, consider what healthcare expenses you might have and use your FSA money before your annual deadline.
- Revisit Your Retirement Accounts
Before the year is over, you should ensure you take advantage of every retirement-saving opportunity that fits your financial goals. If you are still working, make sure you max out your employer’s match—which is essentially free money—by contributing enough money to meet their threshold. Remember: You can contribute to your IRA until the 2017 tax-filing deadline, but you likely need to make any 401(k) investments by December 31.
- Check Your Credit Report
Closely monitoring your credit report is more important than ever. In today’s online world, identity theft can happen at any time. And the recent data breach at Equifax, which compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans, serves as an alarming reminder. Every year, you should check reports from all 3 credit agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to look for any activity you do not recognize.
- Envision What You Want to Accomplish in 2018
Reaching your goals begins with defining exactly what you want to achieve. And while much financial guidance depends on a balance between long-term objectives and short-term needs, we think mid-term goals matter, too.
As 2017 comes to a close, ask yourself what financial milestone you would like to reach by the end of 2018. Perhaps you want to save more money, pay down debt, or fund college. Whatever your goal, start analyzing the daily choices you can make to help move you closer toward the finish line. With a bit of preparation and focus, you can strive to look back a year from now and feel proud of your new financial accomplishments.
Building the financial future you desire depends on making thoughtful, strategic choices today. Through the rest of 2017, we encourage you to follow through with the financial decisions that will move you closer to your goals. If you have any questions or want to discuss how to advance your financial goals in 2018, we are always here to talk.