10 End of Year Planning Tips
I feel like Oprah Winfrey doing her big annual holiday show. However, instead of giving away this year’s hot new toy (which, I’m told is the Little Live Scruff-a-Luvs), I’m giving end-of-year financial planning advice. There still may be time for you to make some last-minute adjustments in order to keep your finances in tip-top shape!
1. Employer retirement plan contribution maximums. For those of us with traditional 401(k) plans, that is $19,000 if you’re under 50 (and an additional $6,000 for those of you who turned 50 or older in 2020). I can’t stress enough the importance of retirement savings. So, this is first on my list!
2. Tax projections with your CPA. Do this soon–the sooner the better. You can first and foremost get an understanding of what you’ll owe (or get back) in taxes this year. Next, you can get a sense if there are any underpayment penalties you can help avoid by making an estimated tax payment. Finally, with the new tax laws, it’s important to understand if you’re going to be Standard or Itemize deducting this year, which may affect your charitable intentions and ability to get a deduction for them in the first place.
3. Roth IRA contributions. You still have until April 15th of next year to make a back door (or regular) Roth IRA contribution. But, why wait? This is a great opportunity to save more money in a tax-favored manner.
4. Roth conversions. If you run a good tax projection, you may find you still have the room until you enter the next income bracket. This may be a good opportunity for you to convert some IRA dollars to Roth dollars while staying in your current income bracket.
5. H.S.A and other employer-sponsored savings vehicles. Most of these must be fully contributed to in the current calendar year to benefit. I’m a huge fan of maxing out those health savings vehicles. If you haven’t already, make sure you’re scheduled to contribute as much as possible ($7,000 for families and $3,500 for individuals, with a $1,000 age-55-or-older catch-up).
6. F.S.A accounts. Sticking with the health care savings vehicles, your Flexible Savings Accounts are different than your Health Savings Accounts. These F.S.As need to be depleted each year. It is why Warby Parker (a fancy eye-glass store) cleans up in December. Remember that you use these funds or lose these funds, so you might as well do the former.
7. Charitable contributions. You must get this done before 12/31/19 to benefit from a charitable deduction for the calendar year. A check just has to be post marked by 12/31 and not necessarily cashed, thankfully. If end-of-year holiday expenses got you a bit squeezed, you can also charge your donation to a charity. As long as the charge, not the payment, is made this year, you’ll qualify for a charitable deduction in 2019.
8. Required Minimum Distributions. If you’re age 70.5 or older and you haven’t taken your annual RMDs for this year, make sure you do so. Failure to withdrawal can lead to a significant penalty (up to 50%) levied by the IRS.
9. Benefit elections for 2020. Now is a good time to discuss what makes sense for 2020 as far as work benefit elections. Some items can be changed throughout the year. However many, like health insurance, are locked in annually. This is a great opportunity to review what you spend historically. You can also project forward what your health expenses seem to be and choose a plan accordingly.
10. Sit down and plan. The end of the year creates a great opportunity to review your goals, objectives, and values. We can be very helpful in this area. This allows for the opportunity to reflect where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. I find something therapeutic about doing this and making the necessary tweaks to keep your plan aligned with your goals.
You get a new car! And, you get a new car!
Unlike Oprah, though, I’m not giving away new cars. But, the gift I am giving is that of financial intellect. (And isn’t that better anyway?)
Let me, or one of my partners, know if you have any questions on these end-of-year planning tips. Thank you, and I wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.