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  • Writer's pictureAnn J. Shubert, CFP, MBA

Ann-splaining™ Your Money Calendar: Get a Head Start on End of the Year Planning for Employees

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Check these items off your to do list now so you can relax and enjoy the holiday season!

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It’s September and Labor Day has passed. You’ve made it through back-to-school, or you’ve gotten home from that last big summer vacation (or both!). Now is a good time to tackle end-of-the-year financial tasks, get them off your plate, and head into the holidays ready to relax and enjoy!

If you are still working and saving for your retirement in the future, here are some things to consider (and links to some helpful resources I’ve made available here on my blog website):

1. Adjust final contributions to your 401(k) or other employer sponsored retirement plan if needed

  1. If you are aiming to contribute the maximum allowed, revisit how much you have contributed year-to-date, and make sure you are on track to hit that mark, or adjust accordingly. If you do adjust, be sure to set a reminder to adjust back next year if necessary! (For 2023 contribution limits, check out the second page of “2023 Important Tax Numbers” on my Resources page.)

  2. If you are going to reach the contribution limit before the end of the year, and your employer makes matching contributions, be sure that your employer plan has a “true up” provision to pay you the match on your total salary, not just for the pay periods you made contributions. One very large plan that does NOT have a “true up” provision is the government Thrift Savings Plan. Say you max out by the end of September and stop contributing to a plan with no “true up,” the employer match you used to get each pay period will also stop, and you will only receive a match on ¾ of your total salary.

  3. If you have managed to save money over the year that you’d like to put towards retirement, you have a good retirement plan at work (low fees, good investment options), and you have not yet contributed the maximum amount allowed, consider increasing your contribution through the end of the year to bolster your retirement savings. Just be sure to adjust back down come January, unless you can afford to continue with the higher contributions.

2. If you max out Social Security, be intentional with the extra cash flow

  1. For 2023, the Social Security wage base is $160,200 per person. If you make more than that, then you will stop paying Social Security taxes at the point in the year when your wages reach that level, resulting in a bump up in your take home pay. Rather than just treating it like an unexpected windfall, have a plan to use it to shore up your financial position.

  2. If your emergency fund needs some help, plan to move the extra over to your savings account, or wherever you keep liquid cash to cover unexpected expenses so they don’t go on credit cards.

  3. If your cash flow and emergency needs are covered, consider increasing your contribution to an employer sponsored retirement plan, or contributing to an IRA account. (See “Can I Contribute to My Roth IRA” and “Can I Make a Deductible IRA Contribution” on my Resources page to be sure you are eligible.)

3. Take full advantage of your employer benefits for next year

  1. If your employer provides benefits like health, disability and/or life insurance, or FSA/HRA/HSA accounts, the open enrollment period for 2024 is likely coming up. Lots of times people put this off until the last minute and then rush through the process, not taking time to investigate options or consider changes to their own situation. Set aside some time to pay attention at the start of the enrollment period, so you don’t miss out on valuable benefits that are part of your total compensation!

  2. Has your employer changed any of the offerings (other than the usual increase in medical insurance premiums!), maybe added something new or changed the health plans or providers? Be sure you take a look to see how the changes might impact you.

  3. Has your personal situation changed, perhaps you got married, or had a child? It’s important to really dig into the optimal benefits for your new situation when something big has changed.

  4. Check that your beneficiaries are correct on retirement plans and/or insurance policies. These designations will likely override anything specified in your will, so it is important that they not be out of step with your current situation.

  5. For a helpful checklist, see “What Issues Should I Consider With My Employer Provided Benefits” on my Resources page.

4. Optimizing taxation in brokerage accounts

  1. If you have investments in non-qualified, taxable brokerage account(s), now is a good time to review the tax situation in those accounts, and make any changes that will reduce taxes before the end of the year.

  2. If you have made sales earlier in the year that generated taxable capital gains, are there holdings with losses that you could sell to offset those gains and avoid taxes on them? Remember that paying taxes, while not something anyone likes, indicates that you made money somehow, so minimizing taxes should not be your only goal when investing! But if there are moves you could make that would reduce your taxes that are also consistent with your overall investment strategy, you want to execute those before the end of the year.

  3. If you hold traditional mutual funds in your taxable account, most will distribute taxable capital gains in the last few months of the year in addition to any income distributions. If you manage your own investments, and your accounts have high enough balances, you may want to get projections of these distributions from the fund webpages so you aren’t surprised by tax liabilities come next April. If you have a financial professional managing your investments, this is something they should be keeping track of for you.

5. Get that planned IRA contribution done!

  1. If you know that you will be contributing to an IRA, and you have enough information about your income situation now to be sure you will be eligible, don’t wait! Yes, you have until the tax filing deadline next year to contribute to an IRA, but the sooner you put money into the market, the more time it has to work for you. (See “Can I Contribute to My Roth IRA” and “Can I Make a Deductible IRA Contribution” on my Resources page to check on your eligibility.)

If you need help getting any of these end-of-the-year tasks done, book a free consultation. I can guide you through the steps and answer your questions so you head into the holidays with your financial house in order!

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The content of this website is for information only, everyone’s situation is different. If you have personal financial concerns, please schedule a 30 minute free, no obligation call with Ann here.

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