Winter Is Coming: Make These 6 Money Moves Now

By Shannah Game on 4 November 2015 0 comments

As we approach the end of the year, it's important to make sure that your money is headed in a good direction. It's all too easy to put your finances on autopilot and not think twice about the money moves you're making. But a completely hands-off approach can be a recipe for disaster. Here are six money items to tackle this fall.

1. Health Insurance Open Enrollment

Having health insurance is no longer an option. In fact, the fine for not having health insurance goes through the roof in 2016. In 2016, you'll pay the higher of either 2.5% of your yearly household income or $695 per person if you fail to have a health insurance policy that meets the government's definition of minimum essential coverage. That's a hefty chunk of change.

Open enrollment starts on November 1, 2015 and only runs until January 31, 2016. You only have during that window to make changes to your health care plan unless you fall under a special exception, such as marriage, giving birth, or losing coverage at work. Don't get lazy though; you only have 60 days after one of those events to get insurance coverage. If you don't, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment.

2. End of Year IRA Contributions

Contributing to your IRA, whether it's a traditional or a Roth plan, can be an important component of your retirement plan. And the sooner you start, the more money you can accumulate over your lifetime. Don't forget that you can make your IRA contributions for 2015 all the way up to the April 15, 2016 tax filing deadline.While traditional IRA contributions may qualify for tax deductions, Roth contributions generally do not. Tax deduction or not, contributing to your IRA is simply a smart financial move.

3. It's Bonus Time

The end of the year means that bonuses are right around the corner. Do you have a plan for your bonus? Maybe a trip somewhere amazing, or buying that new iPhone 6? Why not plan on using all or some of your bonus to help further your financial goals, either by paying off debt or saving and investing? Also, remember that your bonus is often based upon your performance, so now is the time to step up your game and talk with your boss about how you might maximize your check.

4. Create a Money Filing System

Before the end of the year, it's a good idea to get a money filing system in order to keep track of all your important documents, tax information, and all those other loose financial papers that need a home. Keep at least your last two years tax returns, any insurance documents and policies, and if you are self-employed, all those receipts that you will need for tax time. Whether you use a service like Dropbox, a password secured vendor, or even an old school accordion file at home, make sure your filing system is secure and easy to access.

5. Entrepreneur Taxes

When you're an entrepreneur, you've got to think a little differently about the end of the year. For you, the end of the year is a good time to make an inventory of all the tax deductible purchases needed for your business. On your list, you might include things like computers, phones, software, equipment, books, and new marketing systems. Always make sure you save the receipt, and buy the items before December 31, 2015 to count toward this year's deductions.

6. Donate

Donating toward the greater good can be a terrific feeling, but there are a few rules you need to follow if you are going to deduct the expense as part of your 2015 taxes. If you choose to make a monetary donation, you must ensure that you are giving to a proper non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, and you must have some sort of bank record, cancelled check, or receipt for your donation.

If you choose to use a credit card to donate, make sure you donate before December 31, 2015. If your credit card bill isn't paid until January 2016, but you made the donation in 2015, it still counts for this year. If you plan to donate clothing or household items, they generally must be in good shape. Organizations like Goodwill will always ask you for the approximate value (known as fair market value) of your donations. Just be aware that if you donate over $500 of goods or clothing, you will need an appraisal of the value regardless of whether the items are in good shape or not.

What are you doing to prepare your finances for winter?

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Guest's picture
Kelli B

Good reminder of things to do before the end of the year. A lot of times people get so caught in holiday planning/shopping they forget some of these.