As the year draws to a close, this is your moment to take stock of your finances and position yourself for a successful year ahead. From managing your tax opportunities to optimizing your budget and revisiting your investment portfolio, the transition to a new year naturally encourages a fresh perspective.
Think of it as an annual financial check-up. Just as you value your physical health, your financial well-being merits equal consideration. The markets shift, your wants and goals evolve, your available options change and tax laws are rewritten. So year-end offers a prime opportunity to pause, reflect, and plan for the next 12 months and beyond.
Setting Financial Resolutions
Your financial journey is a dynamic one. Declaring New Year’s resolutions for your finances is your chance to set new intentions, adjust your financial habits, and refine your financial goals. Whether you aim to pay off student loans, save for a dream home, or invest for retirement, starting the year with a precise financial roadmap can greatly impact your progress.
Start by reviewing your existing goals and celebrating your achievements before adjusting your strategy for the upcoming challenges. While embracing the potential of a fresh start, make sure your targets leave room for life’s twists and turns.
Will you aim to save more, invest wisely, or conquer debt? Is this the year you’ll pursue a career change, expand your family, or buy a vacation home? Are you ready to learn more about the markets or finally hire a financial advisor? Put it in writing and hold yourself to it.
Embrace this annual tradition with enthusiasm, knowing each resolution is a step closer to your envisioned financial future.
Strategic Year-End Tax Planning
December 31st doesn’t just mark the last day on the calendar. It also marks the end of the tax year and your last chance to make strategic tax planning moves that could significantly impact your finances.
One way to offset taxes is through charitable giving. Consider the advantage of donating appreciated stock to capitalize on the full tax deduction at its fair market value. This helps charities near to your heart while also possibly lowering your tax obligation.
Generously giving through a Qualified Charitable Donation (QCD) from your IRA, or donating Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) directly to a charity if you’re of retirement age, can reduce taxes owed. And prepaying next year’s charitable gifts this year could provide a larger tax deduction.
As the year draws to a close, consider maximizing your retirement plan contributions to potentially benefit your tax situation. By enhancing your 401(k) or 403(b) investments before year-end, you strengthen your retirement nest egg and access potential tax deductions. Additionally, it’s a good time to discuss with your accountant or financial planner any IRA contributions you should make before the April tax deadline.
Don’t miss your window to incorporate these tax-savvy maneuvers into your year-end financial strategy.
Using Employee Benefits to Your Advantage
Reassessing your employee benefits is another must-do task that emerges as you approach the end of the year. This is your chance to pursue the maximum advantage from the benefits your employer offers.
Look closely at your investment potential with retirement contributions and stock options. These benefits can bolster your long-term financial security and create a robust foundation for your financial goals. But often, employees fail to take full advantage of things like company 401(k) matching or stock options.
During your company’s open enrollment period, carefully review health insurance options to optimize coverage for the upcoming year, considering any changes in your family situation or planned medical procedures. Make sure you understand your employer’s various insurance offerings and contact your benefits manager for clarification as needed. Also, don’t let leftover Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds slip through the cracks. Be sure to utilize this money wisely before year-end by addressing essential medical or dependent care needs. Remember, most companies have a “use it or lose it” policy. For next year, consider how much money you will need in your FSA account to cover the year’s medical expenses, and talk to your financial professional for advice on whether using your Health Savings Account (HSA) as an investment tool would be a good move for you.
By proactively managing your employee benefits, you will be able to fully leverage every available resource for your benefit.
Annual Estate Plan Review
The close of the year is the perfect time to reaffirm the security of your legacy by reviewing your estate plan.
Yearly reviews serve as a regular checkpoint for making sure beneficiaries are still in alignment with your wishes and that all your estate documents reflect your current intentions. From wills and trusts to powers of attorney and advance directives, give each one a review and update them as needed.
Life is unpredictable, so keeping your estate plan up to date is vital.
A Successful 2024 Starts Now
These suggestions are just a few of the smart moves you can make to set yourself up for success in 2024 and beyond. As the year draws to a close, partnering with a financial advisor like Stoddard Financial can help you make informed decisions regarding your unique financial situation while building a firm foundation for your future. Enjoy the celebrations and invest in your financial well-being – a gift that endures far beyond the calendar’s turn.
Kevin Stoddard is a LPL Financial Advisor with Stoddard Financial in Medfield, Massachusetts. Stoddard helps clients throughout New England to identify, plan, and execute strategies designed for securing their desired financial future. With their Financial Wellness @ Work program, they engage, educate, and empower employees by helping them to understand and appreciate the value of their benefits package.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax or legal issues with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.