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A Financial Checklist to Prepare for the New Year

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The days left on the 2017 calendar are shrinking and before you know it, 2018 will be upon us. As the end of the year draws near, many people find themselves busy with preparations and celebrations for the holiday season. During this busy time, don’t forget to give yourself a year-end financial check-up. Here is a list of year-end financial items from Money magazine that you may want to review before the calendar flips to 2018. 

Begin building or evaluate your emergency fund. Experts recommend keeping enough money in savings to cover three to six months of expenses so you’re prepared for a rainy day (or month). If you haven’t already started putting money away for emergencies, now is a great time to start. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out these Savings Strategies

Consider maxing out your IRA contributions.
If you have an IRA, the end of the year is a good time to max out your annual contributions. If your contributions are tax-deductible, they can lower your tax bill come next April.  

Give to your favorite charity. Making a year-end gift to a charity is a great way to give back to your community and help minimize next year’s taxes. Keep in mind, only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible.

Review your insurance policies.
If you have experienced any lifestyle changes during the past year, such as a marriage or divorce, or a new addition to your family, now may be a good time to make adjustments to insurance coverage. If you have undertaken home improvement projects, it’s also important to make sure your home insurance reflects any value you may have added to your house. As the Insurance arm of Capitol Federal®, Capitol Agency® can help you compare coverage from several different carriers to find the most valuable policies for your family’s unique needs. 

Make sure beneficiary designations are up to date.
If you have life insurance or retirement accounts, you have probably named beneficiaries to receive the benefits, should you pass away. It’s important to revisit the names you listed as beneficiaries at least once a year to make sure they still reflect your current wishes. 

Take required minimum retirement distributions. If you are retired and have turned 70 ½ this year, you are required to begin withdrawing a set amount annually from your retirement plans and IRAs. If you miss the annual deadline for your required distribution, you may incur a penalty. 

Empty out your FSA. If you have money still left in your employer’s FSA account by next year’s deadline, you’ll lose it. Check with your employer’s benefits department to find out the deadline to make sure those funds don’t go unused. 

Consider opening a safe deposit box. If you have ever found yourself scrambling to find a birth certificate or passport amidst all the drawers in your home, a safe deposit box may be the answer to help you get more organized. A safe deposit box will also ensure your important documents and valuables are safe should your home ever be damaged by a fire or severe weather. Make sure you ask your bank to designate a secondary person who can access the safe deposit box if you are indisposed.

Make a plan to tackle debt.
Make the start of a new year the start of saying good-bye to debt. First, determine how much total debt you owe. Then, carefully look at your monthly expenses to find areas where you can cut costs and create a budget. Finally, choose a strategy for how you are going to eliminate the debt.

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Do you have other items on your year-end financial checklist? Share them here! 

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Categories: Retirement, Safety and Security, Smart Spending, Strategies for Saving
Tags: Retirement Tips

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