Although December 31st is right around the corner and many of us are looking forward to putting 2020 in the rear-view mirror, there are some year-end financial moves you should consider making. Here are 5 financial tips (and a bonus!) to consider tackling before year end.
5 Investment Tips to Tackle by Year End - Infographic
Tip 1. Review Your Investment Portfolio
How are the investments in your 401(k), IRA, and non-retirement accounts performing? This year has been unusual because some investments have performed extremely well while others have significantly underperformed. As a result, your portfolio could be out of balance and no longer align with your goals. It’s a great time to compare your investments to a similar benchmark and see how they stand up. While you’re reviewing performance, take the time to rebalance to an investment mix that works with your goals and risk tolerance.
Tip 2. Consider a Smart Tax Move: use losses to offset gains or income
If you have taxable investments that have lost money and that you want to sell for strategic reasons, consider selling shares before the end of the year to recognize a tax loss on your return. Tax losses, in turn, could be used to offset any tax gains. If you have a net loss after offsetting any tax gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 of losses ($1,500 if married filing separately). If your loss exceeds the $3,000/$1,500 limit, it can be carried over to later tax years. Be sure to discuss this with your tax professional before making any changes in your portfolio.
Tip 3. Do a Roth Conversion
Most of us have saved retirement money in a pre-tax 401(k) or IRA account which means when we use it for retirement income it will be 100% taxable. Roth IRA and Roth 401(k) savings, on the other hand, have already been taxed so they will be distributed tax free. The IRS allows you to convert pre-tax money to Roth money – but there’s a catch. Every dollar you convert will be included as income on this year’s return. Tax now or tax later – that is the question. Like above, it’s a good idea to meet with a tax professional before implementing a Roth conversion.
Tip 4. Take Stock of Your Emergency Fund
It’s been a crazy year for most of us and your cash flow may have been impacted. Some of you were able to work and save more due to cancelled vacations while others had a gap in their income due to a job loss or furlough. Take a moment to look at your emergency fund and make sure it can cover 3-6 months of the important expenses like housing, insurance, debt repayments, kid’s stuff, etc. Based on your review, consider a plan to build your reserve or determine to which goal you want to allocate your surplus.
Tip 5. Starting a Business or Side-hustle? Open a Retirement Plan
More and more of us are opting to go it alone and start a consulting business or make money on the side when we’re not working our “day” job. Consider working with an advisor to open your own retirement plan that fits with your financial goals and use that income to add to your retirement savings. Some retirement plans need to be opened and funded by the end of the year if you want to reduce your 2020 taxable income so meet with your tax professional and see if this could work for you.
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Bonus Tip 6! Set Goals for the New Year
With fewer of us traveling this holiday season, find time to create or review your financial plan. The plan should direct your saving goals for 2021 and help you feel better about your future. While you’re at it, check the beneficiaries on your accounts and review your insurance coverage. Lastly, it’s been a stressful year, set wellness goals for you and the family to enjoy 2021.
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