By Robert Snell
We’ve still got a couple of months until 2019 draws to a close, but it’s not too early to make some end-of-the-year financial moves. In fact, it may be a good idea to take some of these steps sooner rather than later.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Boost your 401(k) contributions. Like many people, you might not usually contribute the maximum amount to your 401(k), which, in 2019 is $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older. Ask your employer if you can increase your 401(k) contributions in 2019, and if you receive a bonus before the year ends, you may be able to use that toward your 401(k), too.
• Add to your IRA. You have until April 15, 2020, to contribute to your IRA for the 2019 tax year, but the more you can put in now and over the next few months, the less you’ll have to come up with in a hurry at the filing deadline. For 2019, you can put up to $6,000 in your IRA, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.
• Review your portfolio. It’s always a good idea to review your investment portfolio at least once a year, and now is as good a time as any. But don’t make any judgments based solely on your results over the past 10 months.
Instead, look carefully at how your portfolio is constructed. Is it still properly diversified, or has it become overweighted in some areas? Does it still fit your risk tolerance, or do you find yourself worrying excessively about short-term price swings? These are the types of factors that might lead you to make some changes.
• Don’t forget about your RMDs. Once you turn 70½, you generally need to start taking withdrawals – the technical term is “required minimum distributions,” or RMDs – from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or similar plan. After the first year in which you take these RMDs, you must take them by the end of each year thereafter.
If you don’t withdraw at least the minimum amount (calculated based on your age, account balance and other factors) you face a penalty of 50% of what you should have taken out – a potential loss of thousands of dollars. So, take your RMDs before Dec. 31. The financial services provider that administers your IRA or 401(k) can help you determine the amount you must withdraw.
• Think about next year’s opportunities. It happens to almost all of us: A year has passed, and we haven’t taken the actions we had planned. So, start thinking now about what you want to do in 2020 from a financial standpoint.
If you have children or grandchildren, have you started saving for college? Have you considered ways to protect your financial independence if you ever need some type of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay?
If these or other items are on your financial to-do list, start planning now to get them done next year.
By Robert Snell