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Year-End Financial Chores
The end of the year has come, with its rounds of shopping and eating and parties. But there are some serious things on the agenda now, including tying up your financial loose ends before the new year gets here.
Take a look at your health care expenditures for the year. Have you met your insurance deductible? If so, you might want to consider scheduling any upcoming medical exams, procedures or purchases before the end of the year.
Similarly, if you have a flexible health spending account with a use-it-or-lose-it feature, see if you have used everything. If not, decide what you can get before time runs out. (In the same vein, if you have a flexible spending account for dependent care, check to make sure you won’t lose anything when the year ends.)
This is the time to make your last-minute tax moves. For example, talk to your financial adviser and your accountant about timing investment sales and purchases to potentially minimize your tax burden.
Pick up some additional deductions by making some last-minute gifts to charity. If you want, you can pay your January mortgage early and get the interest deduction for this year.
See if you have maximized your contribution to your own retirement account. The maximum 401(k) contribution for 2009 is $16,500; people who are over age 50 can put in an additional “catch-up” contribution of $5,500. If you have not yet maxed out, see if your plan allows you to make a one-time contribution.
Avoiding the Binge
The holidays are famous for being a time of over-spending. You buy too many presents, you go out to eat too often, you entertain too lavishly. Be strict with yourself, and remember that the meaning of the season is giving, which is not the same as buying. You don’t want to go on a holiday spending bender that could leave you with a hideous hangover when the bills start to come in next month.