22 Financial Tips for Fourth Quarter
Fourth quarter is here, and that means there’s no better time to evaluate where you are versus where you want to be financially come the end of the year. Here are 22 financial tips for fourth quarter–follow these, and you’ll end the year strong!
#1 Review Your Year-to-Date Progress
Review your 2019 financial goals and assess what you’ve accomplished and where you are at in achieving your objectives.
Take note of what you still need to accomplish by the end of the year. Do you need to adjust your budget to meet these goals or cut back on expenses to meet debt-payoff or savings goals?
#2 Review Your Current Cash Flow
Taking a look at what you’re spending your money on helps you analyze what you can cut and apply it toward your retirement savings or your rainy day fund.
Even if it’s just a few extra dollars, every little bit helps.
#3 Contribute More to or Start Funding an Emergency Savings Fund
Having an emergency fund helps cover unexpected expenses without stressing, or having to borrow or carry a balance on your credit card.
If you have one, review your progress. Are you on track to meet your savings goals by the end of the year? If not, see what expenses you can cut to put more into your rainy day fund.
If you don’t currently have one, make a plan to set aside some money before the end of the year. Even a few hundred dollars can make a big difference if your car breaks down or the dog gets sick.
#4 Check Your Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
Many FSAs must be used by the end of the year. Do you have unspent money you need to use or you will lose it? If so, go ahead and make those doctor appointments you’ve been putting off.
Whether it’s getting a vision checkup, buying new glasses, or going to the doctor for a checkup, use your pretax dollars you put in your FSA account to get this done before you lose the money.
#5 Try to Max Out Your 401(k) or IRA Contributions
Where are you in relation to your retirement savings goals this year? Saving as much as you can helps you take advantage of tax deductions.
The 2019 contribution limit is $19,000 and $25,000 for catch-up contribution for people 50 and older. For individual retirement accounts (IRA), the limit for 2019 is $6,000.
Assess where you are and see if you can’t contribute a little bit more out of each paycheck now through the end of the year.
If you can’t max out the contribution limit for your 401(k), at least contribute your employer’s match contribution. It’s like getting free money!
#6 Review Life Insurance Policies
Have you lost weight or stopped smoking this year? If so, review your life insurance policies and see if these life changes will help you get a better quote to save money.
Also, look for gaps in your policies. If you recently got married or had a baby, it’s important to make sure the payout amount covers your spouse or child should something happen to you.
While you’re at it, make sure your beneficiary information is still relevant.
#7 Review Homeowner and Auto Insurance
Evaluate whether or not your home and auto insurance coverage still makes sense for your needs. Now is a good time to review your home and auto deductibles and see if you can lower them to save money.
If your home has increased in value due to updates or additions, make sure to change the replacement value amount to reflect the new value increase.
For auto insurance, if you have any prior tickets or accidents that have fallen off this year, be proactive and get a new quote to see if you can save money.
#8 Review Your Credit Reports
With recent data breaches, there’s no time like the present to review your credit reports and ensure nothing is showing up that’s not yours.
Sadly, data breaches are only going to continue, so we recommend you regularly check your credit reports, credit card statements, and bank accounts.
There are also a variety of inexpensive identity theft monitoring services worth looking into.
#9 Update Beneficiaries
Fourth quarter is the perfect time to review all accounts with beneficiaries and make sure the information is accurate. If not, make the necessary updates as soon as possible.
This means checking the beneficiaries on your 401(k), IRA, life insurance policies, investment accounts, and checking and savings accounts.
#10 Cash In on Investment Losses
If you hold losing positions in the market, consider selling them to offset stock market gains.
The IRS allows you to claim up to $3,000 in capital losses per year, and unused losses can be carried forward into future years if your losses exceed this.
#11 Review and Update Tax Exemptions
This financial tip for fourth quarter can make a big difference for you come tax time. Review your tax exemptions at work to see if you’re paying too much in taxes or not enough.
If you’re not paying enough, making the change now will prevent you from owing the IRS for underpayment.
If you’re overpaying, you’ll be able to keep more each paycheck or apply the additional amount to your 401(k) or IRA contributions.
If you receive bonuses or large sums of money toward the end of the year, taking a look at your exemption now will also help keep you from owing the IRS come tax time.
#12 Review Estimated Taxes
If you are self-employed, have you made all your quarterly tax payments this year? Will you purchase equipment or other investments by year-end that can offset profits this year?
We recommend you talk with your accountant to make sure you’re on track with estimated taxes for 2019, and ensure you won’t get stuck with a large tax bill come spring.
#13 Assess Your Debt
The start of the fourth quarter is a good time to review your debt level and ensure you are on track to meet your debt-payoff goals for the year.
See where you can cut back on ancillary expenses and, instead, put that money toward eliminating more debt before the end of the year. While you’re at it, go ahead and create your debt elimination goals for 2020.
Call your credit card companies and see if they will lower your APR. Ask if they have a 0% offer where you can move high-interest debt onto a 0% card.
This will help save money in the long run since you won’t be paying high amounts of interest.
#14 Rebalance Your Workplace Retirement Account
This financial tip for fourth quarter may help you earn and keep more of your 401(k) investment.
If you aren’t rebalancing your account allocations, you may be missing out on earning more and keeping more of your hard-earned retirement savings.
Because unmanaged allocations may experience much larger losses in down markets and may miss the opportunity for growth during good markets.
We recommend rebalancing your account allocations every quarter, or four times a year. This way, you can make the appropriate changes in order to stay on course with your savings goals.
#15 Read Your Investment Statements
Opening and reviewing your statements helps you determine whether or not you’re on track to meet your financial goals.
All too often, when 401(k) or IRA statements come in the mail each month, people toss them in the trash. Others try to read it, but don’t understand what they’re reading.
It’s important you become engaged with where you’re putting your hard-earned money. Open your statements and read them.
If you don’t understand what you’re receiving, then reach out to an expert for help. Doing so may have a big impact on your overall returns and confidence about achieving your goals for retirement.
#16 Plan What You’ll Do with Year-End Profit Sharing
If your company offers profit sharing and you know you’ll be getting paid out at the end of the year, now is the time to develop a plan for what you will do with the money.
Decide now how you will allocate the money:
- Save it
- Pay off debt
- Invest it into your retirement savings or other investment vehicles
#17 Be Prepared for Healthcare Open Enrollment
The 2020 open enrollment period runs from Friday, November 1, to Sunday, December 15, 2019.
Be prepared with updated lists of doctors and prescriptions before enrollment begins so you aren’t scrambling during the holiday season to gather key information needed to enroll.
#18 Roll Over Old 401(k)s
If you have old 401(k)s from past employers just sitting, plan to consolidate or roll over.
Moving an old 401(k) may help reduce fees and create more investment flexibility with more choices that are offered outside of a 401(k).
We recommend you speak with a third-party expert before deciding if you roll over an old 401(k) into your new employer’s retirement plan or into an IRA.
Doing so will help you avoid irreversible and costly rollover mistakes.
#19 If You’re Over 70, Don’t Forget Your Requirement Minimum Distributions
If you’re over 70 ½ years old, you are required to take the required minimum distributions from your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement plan.
While you can withdraw money anytime, you must withdraw your full required minimum distribution by December 31.
If you do not take the required minimum distributions, you’ll face serious tax penalties of 50% excise tax on the amount not withdrawn.
#20 If You Received a Pay Raise This Year, Increase Your Savings Contributions
If you received a pay raise this year, make sure you increase your contribution toward your retirement savings and or emergency fund.
If your employer offers a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, increase your contribution each pay period starting fourth quarter.
Ideally, you want to save 20% of your salary–whether you contribute more to your retirement savings or to your rainy day fund.
#21 Plan and Budget for 2020
If you know you’ll be making a big purchase for 2020, such as a house or car, plan for it now. Take the steps to improve your credit score and save for the down payment in fourth quarter.
Take the time toreview your 2019 budget and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Then, create a budget for 2020.
#22 Meet with a Third-Party Expert for Guidance
The financial tip for fourth quarter that will make a big impact on your finances and tax situation is to meet with a third-party expert sooner rather than later.
It doesn’t matter how far away or close to retirement you are or how much money you’ve saved.
Speaking to a financial advisor now can help you get on track and stay on track with your financial goals.
Think about it this way: Even the best athletes in the world have coaches! Find a coach to help you be successful with your money!
The type of advice you receive about your finances may be impacted by the type of advisor you resource for advice.
Download our no-cost guide on how to understand The Different Types of Licenses Financial Advisors Have and What They Mean to You.