This time of year, our lives can become full of to-do lists — gifts to buy for loved ones, grocery runs to stock up for the next celebration, and let’s not forget the biggest to-do list of all: your New Year’s resolutions. With all of the holiday whirl, however, it’s easy to forget about your financial to-do list. This year, make sure you include these three important steps.
Max out your retirement savings plan contribution.
The maximum amount an individual can contribute to a 401(k) plan in 2017 is $18,000 if they’re under the age of 50 and $24,000 if they’re 50 or older. The maximum amount an individual can contribute to an IRA in 2017 is $5,500 if they’re under the age of 50 and $6,500 if they’re 50 or older. If you haven’t yet reached your contribution limit, try to direct some dollars into those accounts. Your future self will thank you.
Make a “13th payment” on the principal of your mortgage.
Making an extra payment at the end of each year can help accelerate the total process of paying off your house and could help free you up financially once you reach retirement. After all, if you have fewer mortgage payments once your working days are over, you’ll have more money to spend on things like health care or a trip with the grandkids.
If you have a taxable brokerage account, your advisor can help you balance any losses with any gains you may have in order to help minimize the tax bill you’ll owe in 2018. Essentially, you’ll want to sell off taxable investments that have losses, which reduces the gain that other assets in your account may have produced throughout the year — which in turn can help shrink the amount of taxes you’ll pay on your gains for the year. Also known as “tax harvesting,” the process can be fairly complex to do correctly, so you’ll want to seek the help of a professional to cross this item off your to-do list.
Lists can be an important part of staying on track at any time of the year, but they become especially important in December.
This year, don’t forget to include these key financial tasks on your to-do list. They may not be as festive as putting up lights or planning for the next holiday celebration, but they’ll ultimately be helpful in achieving a goal that can be enjoyable any time of year: financial security.