5 financial checklist items to finish before year end
The end of the year can mean spending time with loved ones, holiday shopping, and finishing up work projects before a new year begins. While you’re checking things off to-do lists, don’t forget about your financial to-do list. If you’re thinking you’re just too busy this time of year to add that to your plate, remember there’s never a perfect time, life will always keep coming at you. And the end of the year is a great time to make sure your financial strategy is in order so you can start the new year with increased financial confidence.
Nearly 40% of Americans avoid dealing with their finances because they feel overwhelmed by them, according to the 2021 Guardian Financial and Emotional Confidence StudyTM. But the study also found that income is not the sole driver of financial confidence and success. Proactive financial habits and knowledge of financial concepts and products are more closely tied to higher levels of financial and emotional confidence. To help get you started on a great path for the new year, here’s a helpful end-of-year financial checklist:
1. Review protection policies
Protecting yourself, your family and your business from elements you cannot control is very important. That’s why first and foremost, review your insurance policies, beneficiary designations, and estate planning arrangements. It is a very real possibility that if something unexpected occurs, you or your family may not be able to recover from a lack of protection. For example, you could have a very solid retirement strategy but if you unexpectedly pass away, get sued, or become sick or injured without preparation, all could be lost. So, have all your protection and estate items executed and ensure all beneficiaries are up to date.
2. Complete tax efficient strategies
If any tax-efficient solutions should be completed by year-end, time is of the essence. Your year-end strategy may include additional contributions to tax-deferred vehicles such as 401(k)s, IRAs, HSAs, and 529s. The more you contribute to these assets, the less your taxable income will be at year-end. So, if you’re looking to reduce your taxable income, it may be a good idea to contribute more to these accounts before the new year hits. For some people it may make sense to max out contributions to some or all these accounts, but for others it may not. Everyone’s situation is different, and this is where working with a trusted financial professional can come in handy. Your financial professional may also have access to tax-efficient strategies that you’ll want to explore as well.
The end of the year can also be a good time for an IRA conversion to a Roth IRA, commonly called a Roth conversion. For anyone who implements this strategy, they will incur more taxes this year, but it does enable you to increase your tax-free income during retirement. You might also consider a partial Roth conversion where you convert a portion of your IRA assets to a Roth IRA one year and convert the remainder of your IRA assets the next year. This may help you spread your conversion out over a couple of years and spreads your taxes out over the same period as well.
3. Review your investments
The end of the year is an ideal time to reevaluate your portfolio. Review your investments and retirement contribution amounts to see if you would like to make any changes. Did you receive a raise this year? Maybe that extra cash flow can be put towards an investment and/or retirement account. As you experience other life changes such as marriage, having children, becoming a caregiver and more, you’ll want to review your investments to make sure they still align with your long-term goals. Also, remember to check your allocations and consider whether you want to keep your risk tolerance the same, increase, or decrease.
This time of year, you may also consider tax loss harvesting, which is the strategy of selling securities at a loss to offset a capital gains tax liability. These losses can be used to help offset up to $3,000 of your ordinary income.1 But tax loss harvesting is not for everyone and should be done in a strategic and coordinated manner.
4. Revisit your budget
Save and invest more if you can. The 2021 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional ConfidenceTM found that “building savings for any reason,” is one of American’s top financial priorities. Cash flow and budgeting are popular topics during the holiday season and while you may not be as comfortable putting more money away at this exact moment, by being proactive and planning for next year, you may be able to save and/or invest more in the new year. If you can put more money towards your investment strategy, this is a great time. Investing is a long-term strategy and while there are dips along the way, 2022 data from Morningstar2 shows us the stock market historically moves upward overall and eventually reaches new highs, we just don’t know exactly when.
5. Personal goal and/or business strategies
This is a great time to work on goals and strategies for the upcoming year. There must be an end game in mind. It’s important to have discussions now about what you want to accomplish for yourself or for your business and put a plan in place to achieve it. According to the 2021 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, 70 percent of business owners have a written financial plan, compared to a national average of only 45 percent. If more people start implementing a financial game plan, it’s likely more dreams could be realized!
People who work with a financial professional tend to have a written financial strategy, according to the 2021 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence, and this leads to increased savings and higher confidence. Working with a financial professional who listens to you, is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and communicates effectively can make all the difference.
Brought to you by The Guardian Network 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY
2022-147596 Exp. 12/24
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