6 Financial Tasks You Need to Complete Before the End of the Year

Couple counting money --- Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis
Couple counting money — Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis

The end of the year is just around the bend, and with it comes a number of opportunities for smart financial moves as well as last chances to take advantage of financial benefits. Here are six things you should consider doing in the next few weeks.

1. Donate to charities.

A donation to a charity is tax deductible, and that deduction comes straight off the top of your income taxes. If you’ve considered donating to a charity this year, now is the time to do it so you can take advantage of the deduction on your 2015 tax filings.

Charitable donations are especially useful for homeowners who itemize their tax returns because they’ll get the full benefit of the deduction. Tax payers without other deductions often find that the standard deduction is better for them, meaning charitable deductions don’t lower their tax bill.

2. Make last-minute retirement contributions.

Now is the time to max out your annual contributions to retirement accounts to ensure their tax benefits help you in 2015 and that your contributions count against your 2015 contribution cap.

For example, in 2015, the annual contribution limit for 401(k)s is $18,000 (or $24,000 if you’re age 50 or older). If you’re below that limit, you’ll want to contribute more in December rather than in, say, January so that your contributions count toward your 2015 contribution limit rather than your 2016 limit.

If you don’t have a 401(k), there is no better time to start one than today!

3. Spend any cash left in your flexible spending account.

If you have a health FSA, you’ll probably want to spend that money before Dec. 31, as any unspent FSA money goes away at the end of each year.

If you haven’t gotten an eye exam or dental checkup, or haven’t replaced your glasses or hearing aid this year, you may want to consider using any remaining funds in your account to take care of those expenses that are eligible for reimbursement.

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SOURCE: U.S. News and World Report – Trent Hamm