When it comes to your financial goals, there’s no reason to wait until January 1 to start putting new resolutions into effect. Between now and the end of the year, you can make major progress. In fact, for many of the savviest financial goals, fall is the best time to start!
Here are 8 things you can absolutely make happen in this final quarter of the year.
1. Top Off Your Emergency Fund
December has five Fridays in 2017, which means there may be an extra paycheck coming your way. Consider it a bonus, and funnel it right into your emergency fund to help offset any surprise home repair needs, car issues, or medical expenses. One of your financial goals might include opening a high-yield online savings account to build up your emergency savings.
2. Revisit Your Withholdings
Starting to think you’re on track to withhold too much or too little from your paychecks this year? It’s not too late to make adjustments and move closer toward your financial goals. Take a look at this IRS withholding calculator to explore your possibilities.
3. Add To Your Retirement Savings
Are you maximizing your 401(k) contributions? Now is a great time to consider increasing your contributions for the remainder of the year. Your minimum financial goals should include contributing enough to take complete advantage of any employer match from your company.
If it’s possible, increase your contributions to 10% to 15% of your paychecks through the end of this year. Per IRS rules you can contribute up to $18,000 every year, deducted from your taxable income. If you’re older than 50, you can contribute an extra $6,000 to catch up as retirement gets closer.
4. Tax-Manage Your Investments
You may have seen some capital gains this year. Some gains from your mutual funds may have been distributed, or since stock market indexes are up, you may have sold stocks that produced capital gains. If either of these apply to you, it might be wise to realize some losses to offset them and reach your financial goals more quickly.
Take a look at your investments, (like individual stocks or mutual funds) that have taxable losses and consider selling them. For instance, you might exchange one mutual fund for another in the same fund family. You’ll get lower transaction costs than if you sold it outright. (Just remember to consult with your personal CPA or tax preparer before moving ahead.*)
5. Get Ready For Open Enrollment
Open enrollment is your yearly chance to update your health insurance and other benefits if you get them through your employer or a health insurance exchange. Employer-based plans usually have their open enrollment in October or November, while federal and state marketplace plans holding theirs from November 1 through December 15, 2017.
Are you taking advantage of everything that’s being offered? Don’t forget to review:
- Flexible spending accounts – Confirm your company’s deadline for spending your FSA funds, so you don’t accidentally miss out.
- Dependent care accounts – Add up items like this year’s daycare expenses to help estimate how much you’ll need for next year.
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
6. Consider Your Charitable Contributions
If you itemize deductions, you probably wait until the end of the year to make your charitable deductions. Maybe you contribute stock, which can be a lengthy process. Start moving forward on your charitable contributions now to stay in step with your financial goals, instead of putting it off until the year’s end.
7. Budget For Holiday Shopping
It’s hard to believe, but the countdown to Black Friday is already beginning! It might be time for you to put some money aside for your upcoming shopping sprees. For instance, consider setting up a weekly automatic transfer (even just $25) from your checking to your savings.
8. Plan For Next Year’s Financial Goals
It’s the perfect time to begin planning for next year. To keep things both realistic and meaningful, make sure your goals are based on an assessment of your current financial situation. What would you like to save for, or splurge on? Start planning now!
*Disclaimer: Citywide Home Loans does not provide tax services, financial planning services or any other service apart from lending. You should always consult with your legal, tax and financial advisors to determine which strategy is the most suitable for your specific circumstances.