Home / World News / Take advantage of final weeks of year to put yourself on better financial footing – The Denver Post

Take advantage of final weeks of year to put yourself on better financial footing – The Denver Post

The end of the year is a great time to review your finances and complete last-minute financial housekeeping. Even this late in the game, there are changes you can make to help ensure that you’re not leaving money on the table and setting yourself up for strong financial footing in 2018.

Health care

Dental or vision benefits: Make sure you have used up your benefits for the year. These types of benefits are often dollar limited. For example, you might have a $1,500 dental benefit per year that doesn’t rollover year-to-year. So, if you need work done and haven’t used your full benefits, it’s better to get it done this year and start next year with another $1,500 benefit.

Medical: If you’ve already met your deductibles and still need some medical services, try to visit the doctor before the year ends, because the bulk of the cost may be borne by the insurance company. If you wait until next year, then you have to start all over again with a new deductible, and you may be responsible for most of the cost for a service that could have been primarily covered by insurance.

Flexible spending accounts: Check the balances in your accounts. If you still have funds to use, it’s best to try to use them by year end. These plans are “use it or lose it,” so if you don’t spend the money, you generally forfeit it. Often companies have a grace period of 2.5 months into next year, but it’s wise to check the timeframe to be sure.


401(k): Make sure you at least contribute the amount needed to qualify for any company match. You still may have one payroll period left to make an adjustment, or if you have a year-end bonus, you may be able to designate that part of that amount go into your 401(k) plan. If you don’t contribute enough to get the company match, you’re forfeiting a part of your salary. Also, you can do some planning for next year by making sure you increase your contribution to get the full match or to simply increase your overall contributions for 2018.


Investment tax losses: If you have taxable investment accounts and you have securities that have declined in value that you no longer want to own, you can take the tax loss to offset other investment capital gains or deduct up to $3,000 of the loss against your ordinary income.

Required minimum distributions: For people over age 70.5 who have IRA accounts, they must take what’s called a “required minimum distribution” from their IRAs every year. You need to get these done before Dec. 31 or the IRS penalty is 50 percent of the amount that should have been distributed. And if you have an inherited IRA (maybe from a parent or grandparent), you often won’t get a notice about your required minimum distribution for the year, so you need to get involved in calculating the amount and making sure it is distributed.

Tax saving deductions and credits: If you’ve been considering making a donation to your favorite charity, now is the time to time to act. While it’s easy to donate cash, if you have appreciated stock in a taxable account, you can also consider directly donating the shares. The benefit is that you are eligible to receive a deduction for the full value of the shares, even if you bought them for much less years ago. Many charitable organizations have the ability to accept appreciated stock, so if you are thinking of making a gift, you’ll want to start now as it can take a few weeks for the transfers to happen.

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