Wrap Up Loose Ends

December

 

Goal: Complete your financial first aid kit maintenance before the end of the year.

How do I wrap up my finances at the end of the year?

If you missed a monthly action step, this is a great time to complete it. Here are some items to keep in mind at the end of the year:

  • Keep an eye on your holiday budget. While using credit cards is a great way to earn cash back or rewards, you’ll need to be sure that you can pay off the balance with your next statement so you can avoid high interest charges. 
  • Use your gift cards. Consider gifting any that you won’t be using to your family and friends. Or you can sell them, though you’ll get less than face value, you’ll have something. 
  • Individual health care enrollment deadline for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange is usually December 15th (visit healthcare.gov to confirm). States with their own exchanges may have longer open enrollment periods, so check your state website as well. If you experience a major life event (or meet other specific criteria), you may also be able to apply for health insurance during special enrollment periods. For more information, see my post: Health Insurance and Medicare Open Enrollment 2019.
  • Review Your Spending Account Balances. Dependent Care Spending Accounts (DCSA’s) and many Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA’s) have a “use it or lose it” policy. If you will have money left over, here are some applicable expenses for FSA’s: Vision (new glasses or contacts), Chiropractic Care, Acupuncture, Prescription Medications, Mental Health Treatment (Therapy) and more (see this round-up of Health Care FSA Eligible Expenses or visit the IRS site)
  • Charitable donations. Make any year-end donations to support your favorite nonprofits to make a positive difference and to be able to claim your tax deduction. Be sure to check to see if your donation is tax deductible (see: Charitable Contributions You Think You Can Claim but Can’t).
  • Complete any gifts to people or trusts to take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion. The annual gift tax exclusion limits increase each year. 
  • Review your IRA and 401(k) contributions and distributions. If you had to take a first RMD by April 1, you must take your second RMD by December 31.

Unclaimed Property Search:

Conduct an unclaimed property search and find missing money.  There are many free and easy ways to search to see if you have unclaimed money. All of these services can be accessed directly and at no cost.  There is almost never a good reason to pay a service to locate money for you. Find resource on how and where you can do an unclaimed property search (here).

Next step: 

Access the Get Ready Toolkit and download the Unclaimed Property Search Checklist (here).

The Get Ready Toolkit also includes a subscription to the Get Ready Newsletter which follows the Get Ready Financial Calendar to help you stay financially prepared.

Pick up a copy of Get Ready: A Step-By-Step Planner for Maintaining Your Financial First Aid kit to guide you through organizing your financial documents and creating your cash flow statement and net worth statement. Pick up a copy on Amazon (here), purchase a digital copy (here) or learn more (here).