October is a good time of year to focus on a few key steps that will help lead to financial abundance now and in the future.
- TIME FOR A PORTFOLIO REVIEW
How did your investments perform this year? Do you understand the type of investments that you own? Are your investments properly diversified? Investors don’t have a lot of control over how the market performed in 2019, but there are a few strategies that an investor can utilize for their benefit in taxable and tax-deferred investment accounts at the end of the year:
- Taxable Accounts: This year’s volatile market may have caused some investments to decrease in value, while others gained in value. Selling some of the losers held in a taxable account can help generate a tax loss that can offset a taxable gain.
- Tax-deferred Accounts: Repositioning investments within tax-deferred accounts is advantageous for investors at all income levels. No taxes will be owed as long as money stays in the account.
Side note: We often work with clients who have highly appreciated stock that came as a result of one or a few companies outperforming over a long-period of time. Having all this wealth generated from a single stock position is great, but continuing to have too much wealth tied into one asset is very risky. Part of our job is to create a strategy for these investors that will help them take these big risks off the table while and staying on track to meet their financial goal.
For investors who are confused or worried that their portfolio may not be helping them reach their financial goals, it might be a good time to consult with a professional.
2. MAKE YOUR 401K CONTRIBUTIONS
The deadline for making a 401k contribution for the year is December 31st. Saving for retirement as you go will help you build a sizable nest egg for the future. Social security and earned pensions may cover only a small portion of your expenses during your retirement years, the rest will be covered by personal savings.
Each employee can make a maximum employee contribution of $19,000 for 2019. If you are over age 50, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 for 2019.
High income earners can take advantage of the tax deferral by contributing to a traditional 401(k). Contributing to a Roth 401(k) is very beneficial, and ideal if you don’t have a big need to defer taxes this year. Contributing to a Roth 401(k) won’t give you an immediate tax deferral like a traditional 401(k), however the contributions to Roth 401(k)s have already been taxed so withdrawals from these savings during retirement will be tax-free!
How and when your employer matches contributions to a 401(k) can vary widely depending on the employer, so it is important to understand the terms of your company’s plan.
3. TAKE REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS
For people older than age 70 ½, you must take your Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) from your tax-deferred accounts by December 31st each year. Consider using the distributions to get rid of the holdings that you no longer want to own. If you don’t need to live off the money from these distributions then consider a qualified charitable distribution. Refer to this article for rules around these.
4. GIFT TO LOVED ONES OR TO CHARITY
Now might be good time to help your kids or grandkids save for college or buy their first home. An individual can gift up to $15,000 each per year to an individual without filing a gift-tax return. You can elect to accelerate five years of gifts ($75,000) into a child’s educational saving account (529 Plan), but a gift tax return must be filed. This article outlines the pros and cons of the most common college savings vehicles.
If giving to charity is an important goal, donating appreciated assets directly to a 501(c)3 charitable organization can be a better way to get more money to the charity and save on taxes, rather than simply writing a check.
If you are in a tax situation where you will be (or could be close to) itemizing your deductions for this tax year, rather than taking the standard deduction, then it might be good to bunch your charitable gifting before the year ends. Work with a financial planner or tax professional who can help advise you on your charitable gifting options. The best strategy will depend on your individual situation and goals.
5. MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST
What are you thankful for this year? Take some time to reflect on the positive things you experienced this year. Writing some of these things down, will bring more awareness to your personal growth this year and help start you on setting some intentions for the positive impact you can make in the new year.