End the Year on a Financial High Note

The holiday season is around the corner, and with the busy days ahead, 2018 will be here before you know it. Amidst all the action, we understand how easy it is to wait until the New Year to consider financial changes. But taking a few steps now could help you reduce your tax liabilities—and start January on a stronger financial foot.

Consider completing the following tasks before 2017 is over:

Make Charitable Donations

Giving to nonprofits you care about can be a powerful way to share joy during the holiday season while benefiting your financial life. Make donations before December 31, so you can apply them to your 2017 tax liabilities. And remember that you can give more than just cash. If you donate appreciated securities, buy tickets to charity events, or give goods to a qualified charity, your gift may be tax deductible. Talk to your tax advisor for more details on your unique circumstances.

Use Your FSA

Flexible spending accounts (FSA) can make paying for healthcare more cost efficient—but the funds in them typically have a set shelf life. If you have an FSA, you probably are unable to carry over any remaining balance to 2018. Verify the deadline for using the funds in your account, and make sure you spend them in time. From new eyewear to dental procedures, consider what healthcare expenses you might have and use your FSA money before your annual deadline.

Revisit Your Retirement Accounts

Before the year is over, you should ensure you take advantage of every retirement-saving opportunity that fits your financial goals. If you are still working, make sure you max out your employer’s match—which is essentially free money—by contributing enough money to meet their threshold. Remember: You can contribute to your IRA until the 2017 tax-filing deadline, but you likely need to make any 401(k) investments by December 31.

Check Your Credit Report

Closely monitoring your credit report is more important than ever. In today’s online world, identity theft can happen at any time. And the recent data breach at Equifax, which compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans, serves as an alarming reminder. Every year, you should check reports from all 3 credit agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to look for any activity you do not recognize.

Envision What You Want to Accomplish in 2018

Reaching your goals begins with defining exactly what you want to achieve. And while much financial guidance depends on a balance between long-term objectives and short-term needs, we think mid-term goals matter, too.

As 2017 comes to a close, ask yourself what financial milestone you would like to reach by the end of 2018. Perhaps you want to save more money, pay down debt, or fund college. Whatever your goal, start analyzing the daily choices you can make to help move you closer toward the finish line. With a bit of preparation and focus, you can strive to look back a year from now and feel proud of your new financial accomplishments.

Building the financial future you desire depends on making thoughtful, strategic choices today. Through the rest of 2017, we encourage you to follow through with the financial decisions that will move you closer to your goals. If you have any questions or want to discuss how to advance your financial goals in 2018, we are always here to talk.

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on December 20, 2017 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.