The holidays are just about here, and it might seem like the only thing you are doing these days is spending money. However, it is important to make sure that your year ends on a good financial note. These 2018 year-end financial tasks will help you have a great 2019! We posted on this subject once before, but it is so critical to your financial health that we decided to create a simplified list so you can focus on the most important year-end financial tasks to do right now.
Your Holiday Budget
Before we get to the list of 2018 year-end financial tasks, let’s talk about holiday spending. Hopefully, you set a budget and are sticking to it. Nothing is worse than starting the new year with credit card debt from your holiday shopping.
According to surveys, a majority of consumers say they dip into their savings during the holidays. They sort of let financial discipline go out the window in favor of holiday cheer.
Too much holiday cheer can give you post-holiday nausea, so try your best to stick to your budget. Remember to take advantage of shopping apps that will help you find the best deals, coupons, and cash-back and other bonuses.
If you haven’t finished your shopping, be sure to take full advantage of Super Saturday, December 22d. The malls and shopping centers will be swamped, but it is worth it to be patient and wade through the lines. The deals will be great, especially on apparels, toys, and electronics.
If you can’t find the perfect gift for someone on your list, gift them a gift card. In this final week before the holidays, you can pick up some good discounts, as much as 5-10% on some websites.
2018 Year-End Financial Tasks Simplified
Now that we’ve laid out a strategy for the final leg of holiday shopping, let’s look at the most important year-end financial tasks that you should do now.
Have you maxed out on your 2018 IRA contributions? The 2018 limit is $5,500 and you have until tax day, April 15, 2019. But why wait? Before you spend that money on something else, pay yourself first.
How is your emergency fund? Financial peace of mind is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You never know when something will happen. And it always happens at the worse time. Take your bonus or any other cash gift you receive over the holidays and put it into your emergency fund.
The 2018 Year in Review
An important year-end financial task to do now, in between the shopping, parties and movie premiers is to assess the year.
Take out the financial goals that you set at the beginning of the year.
- Which goals did you meet?
- Which ones are undone and why?
- How about your budget?
- Were your income projections correct?
- How about your expenses?
- Did you make progress with paying down credit card debt?
- How is your credit score? Did it go up or down?
If you did not meet your credit card debt reduction goals, now is the time to create a strategy for 2019. The high interest you are paying on outstanding credit card debt means you have less money to invest in yourself.
Why give money to the credit card companies? Any extra money that comes your way during this final week of the year, put it toward credit card reduction and your emergency savings account.
If you have student loan debt, and your interest rate is 6% or more, this might be a good time to refinance. Alternatively, look for ways to make a serious dent in your student loan debt.
Top off your contribution to your employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts to whatever amount your employer is willing to match.
- Begin to gather all documents for your 2018 tax filing. Getting organized now will make life much easier come tax time even though April is a few months away.
- Review your potential tax liability and take steps before the year is over to lessen it.
- Will you be able to itemize your taxes for 2018 considering all the new tax law changes?
- Was your 2018 tax withholding to your benefit?
- Make your charitable contributions now to benefit from it on your 2018 taxes.
Flexible Spending Account
Did you set up an FSA? Most FSA’s are use or lose, so if you have a balance, use it up before the end of 2018. Get on the phone and schedule those appointments you pushed off. If you have a balance and don’t see a way to use it up, check with your employer. You may be able to secure a grace period or a rollover amount. Also, don’t forget you can get a medical loan from Peerform to help with the costs of uncovered medical expenses. Don’t push off those procedures any longer!
Freeze Your Credit Report
Among your 2018 end-year financial tasks should be checking and freezing your credit report. It seems that there is a new breach reported almost every week. Many times, we don’t hear about it until months later. Therefore, it is imperative that you check your credit report. Consider freezing your credit report just in case your personal details have been compromised. Thieves will not be able to open accounts in your name.
Start Thinking About 2019
We’ll have more to say about this later, but the end of the year is a good time to look forward. Do you have new dreams? New financial goals? Visualize and see yourself there. Then, let’s talk about how we’re going to get there.