Smart Money Moves to Make Before Year’s End

Build a monthly budget.

Now is the time to set a game plan for how you’ll regulate your spending in the coming year. At the beginning of each month, come up with a budget that works for your lifestyle. Taking a hard look at things as the month is beginning will set you up to make good money decisions. Because each month is different, don’t expect your budget to be the same for each one. For instance, if you know you’ll be attending a wedding in the month of April, plan in advance to cut back on “extras.”

Learn how to create a budget with our simple budgeting guide!

Make weekly card payments.

Instead of waiting for your bill to come each month, decide now to make payments each week instead. It can be so easy to charge without thinking about the mountain of debt you’re acquiring, so hold yourself accountable on a more regular basis. This will help you to more quickly pull yourself out of that debt, especially after the expensive holiday season.

Use cash, not card.

As mentioned above, because we so quickly swipe our cards without keeping track of our purchases, it can be incredibly easy for our spending to get out of hand. As you look toward 2018 and the money habits you’ll develop, decide now to withdraw cash and only use that amount for a specified period of time. Studies have shown that an average person spends about 15% less when they use cash only. So, put your cards away, pay down those bills, and give yourself a cash limit to help keep your spending at bay.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

How to Financially Finish Out the Year

USA Tax Day, April 15, coffee break with tax return, cash and coffee mug, vertical.

Take stock of your finances

If you set financial goals for this year, it’s time to see how well you did. Even if you didn’t set any goals, it’s important to have a good idea where you stand. Consider how you’re spending, whether or not you’ve been making progress toward shrinking debt and increasing assets. Calculate your end of year net worth as a point to move forward from.

Schedule time for your taxes

Tax professionals’ busy season is about to start, so if you don’t file your taxes yourself, it is not a bad idea to meet with your tax guru right now. The deadline may not be until April, but discussing your income, expenses, and taxes now can help you get your return as soon as possible.

Donate to charity

The holidays are a giving time of year, and the gifts you give now can pay off come tax season. Maximizing your charitable contributions this year can help with favorable tax deductions in just a few more weeks.

Put that bonus or raise to work

Any extra holiday money that you receive should be put toward your financial future. For those lucky enough to get an annual raise, consider putting a large portion of those new funds straight into retirement savings. Those with bonuses can do the same with catch-up accounts or by paying off debt.

Take a look at your investments

The end of the year is a great to time to review what your money has done for you. If you sold off some of your investments this year, consider selling off some of those not doing as well. Not only will this give you an opportunity to start off the new year in the green, it can also reduce your tax burden.

Set goals for the New Year

The year is almost over, for better or worse. The goals you did or didn’t reach for this year are in the past, but can help you write a more effective financial plan for the new year. Don’t wait until the ball drops to start thinking about where you want to be financially a year from now.

Happy New Year!

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

5 Money Moves to Make Before the New Year

New year is loading. Holiday concept on a blue background with snow and snowflakes. New year template vector illustration.

Here comes the end of the year. Are you ready financially?

1. Review Your Retirement Contributions

Are you putting enough away for retirement? Now is a good time to check into that. Make sure you put aside what you can for your future. A tax-advantaged retirement account is a great way to go because it increases the efficiency of your earnings, and might even get you a bit of a break on your tax bill now.

Questions about retirement contributions or investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1500, email Mary.Laferriere@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

2. Spend from Your Flex Account

If you have a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you need to use your money or you’ll lose it. This is a great benefit, and comes with a tax deduction, but if you still have money left over and don’t use it for a qualified expense within a certain amount of time, you could lose the money.

Look at your FSA and see if you can spend that money on something that qualifies, like eye exams, new glasses, some medical procedure you’ve been waiting on, or dental work.

3. Harvest Your Investment Losses

You shouldn’t sell an investment lightly. However, you can take advantage of the losses in your portfolio. Consider selling some of the losing investments and deducting the loss before year end. Your investment losses reduce your income by the amount you lose, which helps, especially if you made more money this year than last year. Just be careful to avoid getting caught in the “wash sale rule” from the IRS. If you sell a losing investment, you can’t buy it back within 30 days.

4. Donate to Charity

This is a great time of year to donate to charity. Clean out the house and donate items in good condition to a charity thrift shop. This way you can claim a deduction for charitable goods while also helping a worthy cause. You can also get a tax deduction for cash donations you make. Just be sure to get a receipt from the organization so you have it for your tax records, and be sure to itemize on Schedule A of the federal tax return.

5. Review Your Budget

Now is the time for a budget review. How are things going with your budget? Are you on the right track? What’s worked well this year? What hasn’t? Be honest about how the budget is working. You might need to tweak the specifics before the new year so that you are ready to hit the ground running in 2017.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for Moneyning.com, http://moneyning.com/misc/5-money-moves-to-make-before-year-end/

5 Smart Financial Moves Before the Year Ends

Three classical shape pawns made of blue glass

When the leaves begin to change colors and the year draws to a close, people think about many things: the football season in full swing, apple picking, maybe even a thought or two about finding your rakes before the leaves start to fall all over your lawn. As the year begins its last act before drawing to a close, here are five things to do to get your finances in top shape for year’s end.

Assess Your Status

Take stock of your overall financial status. Look back on the goals you had for the year; have you met them? Don’t just look at your short-term goals, either. Review your earnings, your long term financial requirements, and your overall level of financial peace. If nothing is adding up, then it might be time to think about making some serious life changes – new job, downsizing, selling assets – to make sure you are meeting all of your financial objectives.

Review your Insurance Coverage

Other than paying your premiums or making claims, you likely don’t think of insurance too often. Now is a good time to review all of your policies and ensure that you are satisfied with your level of coverage. Start with your life insurance policies, and ensure that you have the right coverage for your circumstances. This can change as you age, or get married or divorced. Next, make sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date. Finally, if you have bought or sold any cars over the past year, make certain that you aren’t insuring a car you no longer own – and that you have sufficient coverage on your new car.

Save for the Holidays

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and with them come a plethora of expenses. Holiday gifts, food, travel, and vacation expenses require significant cash outlays at the end of the year; the average household spends nearly $900 on Christmas alone. Start saving money as the nights get colder, so that you are ready when the holiday season rolls around.

Get Ready for Winter

Now is the time to get ready for winter. Ensuring your house is winterized – basement, walls, and attic insulated, windows sealed, everything caulked – can provide substantial savings before the first snow falls. Changing furnace filters will help optimize your home heating and reduce costs, and running your ceiling fans in reverse (clockwise) will make your home heat go a little bit further. The savings from all of these moves add up, and will equate to less money going to utility companies this winter.

Max Out Your Retirement Account

You have until April of next year to maximize the yearly limit on retirement account contributions, but don’t delay making that deposit anymore. Your tax-deferred IRA, 401k, or other savings plan are your post-work future. Verify how much you have contributed thus far for the year, and work to maximize your contribution before the deadline.

Questions about retirement planning? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1564, email samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

Fall is the one of the best times of the year to get your finances in order, and to close out the year on a high note. Do a good assessment of your overall financial status; determine what you are doing well, where you are falling short, and decide whether or not major changes are in order. Take time to review all of your life insurance policies, and ensure you have adequate coverage. Winterize your house for savings from energy efficiency, and strive to maximize your retirement account contributions. If you do all of these things, you will close out the fall with peace of mind, and will be ready for whatever the next year holds.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: Will Lipovsky for Moneyning.com, http://moneyning.com/money-tips/5-smart-financial-moves-for-fall/