Your year-end financial checklist: what to review before the new year

Before you know it, we’ll all be ringing in 2022 with family and friends. As your year starts to wind down, now’s the time to consider,

Did I check everything off my financial to-do list for 2021?

It’s natural to start the year with hefty goals and aspirations, but sticking to them can be tough (to say the least). If you haven’t checked on your to-do list in a while, take some time this month to create an end-of-year financial checklist.

Reviewing accounts and making necessary changes now is an effective way to set yourself up for success in the new year. Here are a few year-end money tips to help get things started.

Health insurance

The healthcare open enrollment period typically runs from the beginning of November through the end of the year. If you’re still able to make changes, weigh your options against your current coverage. Say you anticipate changes to your wellness in the coming year. Will your current coverage still be the best-suited to meet those needs?

Consider important factors when choosing your coverage, including:

  • PPO vs. HMO
  • Premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Copay
  • Coinsurance
  • Prescription coverage

Evaluate your spending accounts

Have you checked on your FSA or HSA recently? These accounts can be easy to ignore since they’re only used for eligible medical expenses.

If you have an HSA, any money remaining in the account will roll over to 2022. In fact, if you haven’t maxed out contributions to your HSA account, you may want to consider doing so. You can contribute up to $3,600 for individuals or $7,200 for families, and contributions made to your HSA lower your taxable income. This is in addition to being tax-free when spent on eligible medical expenses.

Any remaining balance in an FSA will likely disappear at the end of the year. This amount will not roll over into 2022, meaning it should be spent before Dec. 31 if possible. 

Some employer-sponsored plans will allow a grace period of two and a half months or a rollover amount of up to $550 per employee. These are not required of your FSA, however. Confirm with your employer whether or not these exceptions are included in your plan as soon as you are able.

Review beneficiaries

When was the last time you reviewed your medical beneficiaries? If it’s been a while (years even), your policies may be due for an evaluation. Marriage, divorce, death in the family—these are all events that can impact your beneficiary designation.

Review your designations for all medical and life insurance policies and make changes if necessary.

Retirement accounts

Similar to insurance policies, your retirement account beneficiaries should be updated for the new year as well.

Max-out contributions

If you can keep contributing to your retirement savings account, max out contributions for 2021 if possible. This includes 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, and Roth accounts.

The 2021 contribution limit for 401(k)s is $19,500, with an additional $6,500 catch-up limit for those who are 50 or older. For IRAs, the limit is $6,000, or $7,000 for those 50 and older.

Maxing out your traditional retirement accounts is an effective (and easy) way to reduce your taxable income for 2021.

Meet your RMDs

With the end of the year quickly approaching, it’s your last chance to meet 2021 required minimum distributions (RMDs). This is the minimum amount that must be withdrawn from certain retirement plan accounts once you turn 72.

Accounts with RMDs include IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s.

Neglecting to meet your RMDs for the year can incur a harsh 50% tax penalty. If your RMDs for 2021 are $25,000 and you only withdraw $15,000, you may be penalized $5,000 (that’s 50% of the $10,000 that was not withdrawn). You may be on the hook for income tax on that remaining $10,000 as well.

Taxes

Tax season is starting soon, and there are certain tax-focused decisions you’ll want to make before Jan. 1st.

Charitable giving

The end of the year is often considered the season of giving. If you haven’t made your charitable donations for the year yet, now is the perfect time to do so. You may even find it beneficial to pre-pay next year’s charitable donations to maximize this year’s tax deductions.

End-of-year tax projection

The last things you need come tax season are unwanted surprises. Wealthcare for Women offers clients an end-of-year tax projection designed to address their upcoming tax obligations. I can look at ways to maximize deductions now, while there’s still time to do so. If this is something you’re interested in learning more about, get in touch.

Investments

In preparation for a new year, I encourage you to focus on current asset allocations. Specifically, are your current allocations still aligned with your greater financial plan? If not, it’s important to reassess and strategize.

I can help assess your current allocations in regards to your long-term financial goals. Together, we may find opportunities for things such as strategic portfolio rebalancing or tax-loss harvesting. Rather than focusing on current events in the market, it’s essential to pay close attention to your personal economy and how your current portfolio is addressing your needs.

Planning for the year ahead

While nothing may beat 2020 for the most unpredictable year ever, 2021 was a close match. Did anything significant change in your life? Whether you found a new job or welcomed a grandchild, events like these can impact your financial priorities and goals.

As you reflect on the past year, think about what you would do differently moving forward and what you’d like to stay the same. These reflections can be used to shape your game plan for 2022.

Set your 2022 goals

Starting to set financial resolutions for the new year? If so, have you thought about how you’ll achieve them? Depending on your goals, you may need to change your spending and saving habits to accommodate. Writing your plan for the year out now can help set yourself and your finances up for success over the coming 12 months.

Just like you, I’m excited about what the new year may bring. As you consider wrapping up your year-end checklist, Wealthcare for Women can help with planning for the year ahead.