Get your financial ducks in a row before 2011 is done
Yes, there’s a lot to get done before the end of the year. And we’re not talking about the shopping, decorating, partying or traveling. The year’s end is an important time to get your financial house in order, prepare to pay your taxes, and think about money-related goals for next year.
Where to start? How about with the most prevalent item on everyone’s list right now..
Holiday shopping budget: Take a look at what you’ve spent so there are no big surprises. There’s no worse feeling than having taxes and other year-end contributions to make in January along with a looming gargantuan credit card bill.
2011 taxes: If you have your own business or a side job on top of your real job (any employment that requires a 1099 form) you will need to pay self-employment taxes before traditional taxes are due in April. The deadline for fourth quarter payments is Jan. 15, and penalties are assessed. If you own a home, property taxes are typically due in two installments, one Dec. 1 and one Feb. 1. So if you’ve already missed one, time to pay up or face larger penalties.
Insurance and health care: Now is the time when most employers have their open enrollment periods for 2012. If you need to make any changes to your health care plan, be sure to do so. Flexible spending account dollars also expire at the end of the year, so be sure you have allotted for last minute doctors’ appointments and have maxed out your 2011 deductible.
Savings and retirement: Tis the season for IRA and 401K contributions. Be sure to feed your retirement funds, they save you money on your taxes and we all know that it is going to stink to be broke when we’re old. IRA limit is $5,000 this year for those under 50. You’ll thank yourself in 30 years for making the sacrifice now.
Charity: If you take itemized deductions on your taxes or just like to help those in need at holiday time, now is the moment to make a charitable donation. Lots of people are still struggling with joblessness and recession recovery this year, so anything you can do to help makes a big difference, and improves your karma going into the new year.
2012 budget: Will your financial situation be changing in the new year? Are there any major purchases you’ll need or hope to make? It’s never to early to start thinking about your upcoming budget, and getting a draft down on paper and in your head will help make savings and cutbacks come easier come crunch time.