Year-End Finance Tips for Families

The end of the year is a busy time. Last-minute pushes for school and work and the holiday rush makes November and December frantic.

But this is a good time to examine finances and plan for the new year. So, take the time to cross these financial tips off your to-do list.

Assess Your Spending and Expenses

This is an excellent time to review the household budget and see where you are. If you stayed within budget, pat yourself on the back. But if the budget was stretched, identify why. For example, evaluate whether there were big emergency expenses or if you led an extravagant lifestyle.

During the pandemic, did you sign up for streaming services that aren’t necessary? How much takeout did you have this year? Look at that gym membership and decide if you will use it.

Be ready to make adjustments and cancel any unnecessary subscription services that aren’t necessary. Look at ways to save in the new year. Develop goals that will make your family stronger financially. If you have outstanding debt, take some of the potential savings you’re discovering and apply it toward the debt.

The Marines have a saying, “Make your plan and plan your work.” So make a financial plan and implement it.

Check Status of Flexible Savings Account

If you have a health care flexible spending account (FSA), you probably already know what savings that brings. But the caveat is that it must be spent by the end of the year. Check the balance of your FSA. If there are any unused funds, determine how they can be spent.

Make plans to participate in an FSA next year. Putting away your deductible amount is a great way to save money conveniently.

General Insurance Review

Twelve months can bring a lot of changes. What changed for you last year? If you added a pool or now have a teenage driver, you may need some liability limits increased. That jewelry that your grandmother left you, for example, should be insured.

Write down any changes that took place. Then, give your insurance agent a call and go over your policy.

You’ll likewise want to check any life insurance policies. Who are the named beneficiaries? If your family has changed, you may wish to update who receives your life insurance benefits. And if your family has increased, you should probably increase your limits.

Review and Diversify Portfolio

With a volatile stock market, staying on top of your portfolio is more critical than ever. You shouldn’t just “let it ride.”

Sit down with a financial advisor and review the portfolio’s performance. Make sure you’re diversified and comfortable with your investment strategy.

If you’ve experienced losses in the past year, talk to your accountant about harvesting those tax losses.

Emergency Savings Account

If you don’t have an emergency savings account, now is the time to start one. Often during the year, a little extra money will fall into your lap. Instead of splurging on dinner out, consider tucking away that windfall.

Savings is different than investing. Take a look at your budget and see if you can incorporate both into your plan.

Max Out 401(K) Plan

If your company matches your 401 (k) plan, take advantage of it. Pull your plan’s numbers and ensure you’ve put the maximum amount into the plan. Because the company matches the contribution, this is money for your future.

If you receive a year-end bonus, this is a great way to save it pretax and take advantage of the company match. You save money both for future retirement and lower your taxable income.

Gather Tax Documents

Start preparing for tax season. This starts with prepping this year’s and next year’s taxes. For example, if your family changed size or you retired, prepare to adjust your withholdings in January. The Internal Revenue Service has a tax-withholding estimator.

You also should start gathering your income tax documents.

Prep for Softened Job Market

With inflation running rampant and higher interest rates, job security should be factored into your yearly plan. Although in September 2022 unemployment was running at 3.5 percent, it’s still not a bad idea to be aware of the job market.

This goes back to evaluating your budget and making appropriate adjustments for the new year.

Watch That Holiday Spending

Even the most frugal can be overwhelmed by the holidays. Spending can spiral out of control fast. Of course, it’s only once a year! But, unfortunately, the bills come in monthly next year.

Start now, and establish a budget per gift-recipient. Plan out holiday meals. You don’t need to be too frugal, but don’t buy that extra red candle when the two at home will do.

Holiday spending can and does blow a budget. Guard against it.

Financial Tips for the Finish Line

With the economy in turmoil, it’s important to take a few minutes and evaluate your family’s financial health. Examine your insurance, because an uninsured loss could bankrupt you. Evaluating your budget, investments, and savings can keep you fiscally healthy.

And, finally, after holding your own financially all year, be careful not to break the bank with holiday spending.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.

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Anne Johnson was a commercial property & casualty insurance agent for nine years. She was also licensed in health and life insurance. Anne went on to own an advertising agency where she worked with businesses. She has been writing about personal finance for ten years.

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