Financial Planning Tips for the Fall

As Labor Day approaches, kids head back to school and football season kicks off, it is an essential time to get your finances in shape before year-end.  Implementing the following ideas can save you money and alleviate stress.  Think of it as Fall cleaning for the wallet.

  1. Open enrollment for health care benefits typically takes place in October and November. Be on the lookout for materials explaining recent changes to medical, dental and vision plans but also other benefits offered.  Ask yourself what benefits you will need or not need for the coming year.
  2. Use your Flex Spending Account or Dependent Care Flex Spending Account or risk losing money set aside. Some plans allow $500 to be rolled into the next year.  If expenses already incurred, gather the receipts and submit for reimbursement.
  3. Maximize your retirement plan contributions. Better to increase now and spread out over the next 4-5 months.  A general rule of thumb is to increase 401(k) or 403(b) contributions by 1% every year and every raise.
  4. Tax Loss Harvesting by selling any losing investments to lock in losses to offset capital gains or use to lower your taxable income.
  5. Make cash and non-cash charitable contributions and be sure you save a copy of the receipts. Now is a great time to make a donation to school, church, charitable organization or donate used clothing and furniture when you are cleaning out closets.
  6. Review your all insurance coverage. Once a year, you should review life, auto and homeowners coverage to ensure adequate and facts have not changed.  Plus, important to contact provider and ask for a better rate.
  7. Review your cable TV package and cell phone coverage. Contact provider to lock in a new plan and ask if eligible for any discounts.
  8. Budget for the next 6 months or year. Develop a spending plan so no major surprises after holiday season and can start the year off by taking advantage of January sales deals.
  9. Winterize your home and automobiles. Now is the time to prepare your house, yard, etc. for the cold weather ahead.
  10. Contact your Financial Advisor. Be sure all of the above are implemented and start planning for the coming year.