We are still in November but don't be fooled, the end of the year is approaching quickly! After a challenging 2020, Many Americans are looking forward to a better 2021. Now is the time to make the last moves for your finances in the current year and prepare a plan for next year. This gives you the base for becoming financially successful in 2021.
This checklist helps you remind all the steps:
1. Check whether you need to make some last adjustments for this year
Review your retirement contributions - are you below the maximum limit and are you able to make additional contributions? But make sure you have enough liquid cash left for the rest of this year, including holiday spending!
Roth conversion: Have you planned for it and is it still undone?
Check your debt balances and make additional repayments, if feasible - or start negotiating a better repayment schedule if you are behind the payments. But make sure you have enough liquid cash left for the rest of this year, including holiday spending!
If you have a FSA health account, check its balance, and use the remaining funds before they expire. This might be the time to get new eyeglasses or have this dental treatment you have not done earlier this year.
If you have a HSA health account, make sure you maximized your contributions.
If you are retired and over the age of 70 1/2, make sure you take your required minimum distributions (RMDs)
Review your charitable giving: For tax-optimization, it might be wise to bunch them together in a greater amount for one year, instead of smaller giving every year. Check with your tax accountant, if needed.
Review your taxable investment accounts and harvest tax losses, if appropriate.
2. Now is also a good time to do the general housekeeping tasks for your finances, unless you have done them already earlier during this year:
Review your insurance coverage
If you have an estate plan, review it. Work with your lawyer in case they need updates.
If you don't have an estate plan, think about whether you should create one.
Check your beneficiaries.
Check your credit report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/
3. Prepare for next year
Complete the open enrollment for next year's health plan.
If you don't have a budget yet - it is time to create one! In my blog post earlier this year, I described how to create a budget during those special times. Use this as a guideline, using the last 3-6 months as a reference time.
If you already have a budget: review your spending and update the budget for next year. As this year has been a special year, I recommend the following:
Find out you average monthly spending over the last 6 month (i.e. fully in the pandemic)
Find out your average monthly spending over the last calendar year (i.e. before the pandemic)
Create a new budget by using your "personal mix" between those two figures (depends on how long and how much you expect the pandemic impact you influenced by your age, job, health) and make adjustments for next year. Think over your plans for vacations, changes in living situation or spending on hobbies, and the general price adjustments and update the numbers accordingly.
You might want to meet with your financial advisor to finish your plan and updating your strategy for retirement savings and investment allocations.
Congratulations, now you are financially prepared for 2021!