While year-end can be an incredibly busy time with holiday planning, travel, and celebrations, there’s also a lot to remember about managing your money wisely. December 31 is the end of the tax year, which is a critical deadline for your personal finances and last-minute opportunities to save money.
Before you toast the New Year, use this 7-point checklist to improve your finances while there’s still time.
Tips to Improve Your Personal Finances Before Year-End
1. Max out a workplace retirement account
If you have a retirement plan at work—such as 401(k), 403(b), 457—or a government Thrift Savings Plan, review how much you contributed for the year. For 2019, you can contribute up to $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re age 50 or older. If you can max out your retirement account or get as close as possible before December 31, I highly recommend it.
By deferring tax on your contributions, you keep more money in the account that can grow over time.
Every pre-tax dollar you contribute to a traditional retirement plan is income you avoid paying tax on until you make a future withdrawal. By deferring tax on your contributions, you keep more money in the account that can grow over time. You get this fantastic tax benefit, even if you don’t itemize deductions on your tax return.
Additionally, many employers match a percentage of your contributions to company-sponsored retirement plans. Taking advantage of that benefit is a terrific deal because you receive free money to build a larger nest egg and cut your taxes at the same time. Even if you can’t afford to max out a workplace retirement plan this year, try to contribute enough to max out any employer matching funds.
With other types of retirement accounts, such as an IRA or a SEP-IRA, there isn’t a year-end deadline. You can make deductible contributions for a tax year up to the due date for your tax return, including any filing extensions.
2. Boost your retirement savings rate
The year-end is a great time to increase your retirement savings rate for the next year. You can log on to your online retirement account to make contribution changes or ask your benefits administrator or an account custodian for help. The annual limits in 2020 are going up to $19,500, or $26,00 if you’re over…