I am taking the rest of the year off (hello, yoga pants!), but I wanted to leave you with some year end financial organizing tips. Do these 8 things before the end of the year. These aren’t tips like gas up your private jet at this year’s prices or donate all those appreciated stocks. (‘Cause who wants to make all that money, after all? Too much trouble.) No, these are end of year financial organizing tips for the rest of us.
Use Up Your HCRA
Use your health care account benefits. You may have a few weeks into the new year to claim them, but most plans require that you exhaust your account balance before the end of the year. Step 1- Check your remaining balance. Step 2- Use remaining benefits on things you need even if you are healthy, like routine prescriptions, new glasses or contacts, or even a last minute visit to your chiropractor.
Contribute to your kid’s 529 plan
There is no grace period on this; you must make the contribution before year end. Remember, in some states like Pennsylvania, this year’s contribution can reduce your state tax bill.
Set up your IRA account, if you don’t already have one. There are different types of retirement accounts (Roth, traditional, SIMPLE, SEP, etc,) so be sure to check on whether you must contribute by January 1, or whether you just need to have the account set up by then.
Clear the Clutter
Donate household goods to Goodwill, GreenDrop, Impact Thrift, or a similar organization. This one is easy. Grab a box or bag, run through your house collecting clutter and outgrown clothes, and make a quick trip to your charity of choice. Just be sure to list donated items and get a receipt. You’ll need both when you claim these deductions on your taxes in a few months. (And, of course, you’ll have a cleaner house, too.)
Close dormant (or annoying) bank accounts
Life is too short to waste time with a bank that makes errors, isn’t convenient, or you aren’t using. It’s a huge hassle to move money around, but end of year is the best time to slim down your number of bank accounts or credit accounts. You may even save money on fees.
Automate At Least Some Recurring Payments
Check your revolving credit accounts, and if you incurred any late payment fees last year, set up automatic payments. Online banking isn’t the cure for everything, but it can save you late fees when life gets busy and you meant to make those payments…but didn’t. You can usually set up automatic payments from your bank, through the credit account, or via a third-party site like Manilla.
Donate to Charity
You don’t really need me to remind you to donate to charity. You’ve been getting charity appeals since last month, hard and heavy. But you only have the next couple of days to actually make the donation. Good intentions don’t go very far. And if you make your donation online, via your credit card, you’ll be maximizing the next point…
Redeem Your Points and Miles
Check your frequent flier or credit card miles. A portion of your point balance might be expiring. That would be just sad. 😥 Use those points for your next trip or the present Santa forgot to bring you. This one is both an organizing task AND a reward. Have fun with it. If your expiring point balance is small, you can donate those points to a charity like Red Cross or MakeAWish Foundation. Just check with your rewards program on the specifics.
You may not make millions off this list, but saving a few (hundred) dollars now is a pretty good way to start next year. What other real-life year end financial organizing tips would you include?