As we roll into December and kick off the Holiday season, we begin the holiday bustle. For most of us this means gift shopping, cookie baking, decorating your home, and many other cheery chores and events. Planning ahead and sticking to your list can help your holiday budget, as well as getting Santa’s stockings stuffed for all those good little boys and girls in a timely manner.
Holiday finances can get out of hand fast. The food turns into feasts, gifts can grow to into excessive numbers, and the parties and events can take up all your special time. It quickly can turn into all about the shiny and not about the warm and fuzzies. So don’t forget to slow down, type up your list, and stick to it. The ability to give is a wonderful thing. It means you have excess and you should be thankful. When excess is not there maybe think of a non-traditional gift, like something homemade or a voucher for a leaf free yard or a foot rub. These gifts are close to the heart and can mean sometimes more too.
Throughout your hustle and bustle, don’t forget to take a look at your personal finances and make sure you have a few very important year end items on your “list”.
For those over 70 and ½ years of age or those who have inherited an IRA, please make sure your required minimum distributions are met. Unsure what this means, taxes are postponed on non-Roth IRAs and traditional retirement accounts until you take your money out. And at certain age, currently 70 1/2, you are required to take a certain amount out of your account. The calculations are done on a life expectancy table provided by the IRS, and we help our clients review these numbers. You don’t want to forget to do this before year end, because the 50% penalty for not taking your distribution is steeper than the Grinch’s Mount Crumpit, and trust me you will be a Grinch if you miss this one. So look out for former employer retirement plan accounts or loose IRAs you may have forgotten about. You may want to consider consolidating these for ease of use now that you have reached the distribution phase.
Another year end item to check off your list is tax planning. Tax planning is a great way to review how well you have done this year and make preparations for what will be owed to the Tax Man in your return this coming spring. Meeting with your CPA or tax professional is a great way to confirm you are on track and there won’t be any surprises or giant lumps of coal hiding in your future. Plus it’s a wonderful way for us to catch up with our clients as well.
But most importantly we wish to remind you that the most treasured investment this season is your time spent together with your family and friends. We hope the lasting memories and traditions you make will lift you up with joy. Life isn’t always about the sparkle or the flashy, but the warm and fuzzies.