Broker Check

Q4 Financial Checklist

September 28, 2023

Can you believe summer is already over?

It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the New Year, and now we’re in autumn! Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us once again. It’s a reminder that time really does fly, especially as we get older.

It’s also a reminder to me, as your financial advisor, that it’s time to send a few reminders to you.

Before you start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, digging out any decorations, or even welcoming Trick-or-Treaters, there are a few financial tasks I suggest you take care of first. Don’t worry – they’re not difficult! In fact, you may have handled most of them already and some may not even apply to you. But each task is an important step to take before the end of the year…which, of course, will be here in the blink of an eye.

1. Review your 401(k) and IRA contributions. One of the most important things you can do for your finances before the end of the year is to make sure you have maximized your contributions to any retirement accounts you own. This is especially true of your 401(k) if you have one. All contributions to your 401(k) must be made by December 31 if you want to deduct them from your 2023 taxes. In addition, it’s important that you at least contribute enough that you can take advantage of any company matching. As a reminder, the 401(k) contribution limit for 2023 is $22,500. (People over the age of 50 can contribute an additional $7,500 if they desire.)

With IRAs, you technically have a little more time – all the way up until next year’s tax deadline, which is April 15, 2024. But my advice is to take care of those contributions now, if possible, as it’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of the spring tax season. (Contributing earlier can also help you potentially take advantage of certain Roth IRA conversion strategies, but this is something we should talk about personally, so I won’t go into detail about that here.)

By the way, the IRA contribution limit for 2023 is $6,500. (Those over the age of 50 can also make an additional $1,000 in “catch-up contributions if they are behind in saving for retirement.)

2. Consider your charitable contributions. These days, more and more people are starting to think of investing not just as a way to help themselves, but to help their communities. That’s especially true around the holiday season.

But charity isn’t just about giving back. It can bring tax benefits, too! In fact, there are several charitable gifting strategies that investors can take advantage of. But it’s important to start thinking about this sooner rather than later if you want to be savvy about it. A few things for you to consider:

  • Have you maxed out your charitable donations for the year?
  • Are you planning on contributing cash, stock, or other assets?

If you have any questions about this or need help game-planning your own charitable contributions, please let me know. I would be happy to help.

3. Review your estate plan. When it comes to estate planning, most people prefer to simply “set it and forget it.” But things can change over the course of time – even in the span of a single year! That’s why I highly recommend everyone take a few minutes to look at their estate plan sometime in Q4 to see if anything needs to be updated. Do you need to add or change beneficiaries? What about successor or contingent beneficiaries? Revise your will? You get the idea.

4. Get your “tax season appointment” scheduled now. I know, I know – nobody wants to think about taxes now. Still, it’s a good idea to reach out to your CPA sometime before the end of the year to get your appointments scheduled now…before the rush starts and everyone is doing it. Doing this in, say, December, is a quick and easy way to make your future self thankful. Just remember to set that appointment in March so we can be sure all tax documents have come in.

5. Take out your RMDs. For those over the age of 73, don’t forget to take your Required Minimum Distributions for the year! Failure to withdraw the appropriate amount from your IRA will lead to a 50% penalty on the amount that should have been distributed. If you need any help with this, or with knowing what the appropriate amount is, please let me know.

6. Review your cybersecurity. Cybercrimes are a threat year-round, but can rise during the holiday season. That makes this a good time to ensure your anti-malware protection is up to date, that your passwords are sufficiently varied and complex, and that you remain on guard against suspicious phone calls, texts, and emails.

So, there you have it. Six simple things you can do before the end of the year to ensure you remain on track to reach your financial goals.

If you need help with any of these, please let Tina, Kara or myself know. In the meantime, I hope you have a great fourth quarter!