Newspaper article News Sentinel

Time for Year-End Financial Planning

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Time for Year-End Financial Planning

Article excerpt

Here's a statement sure to stun, confound, and amaze: It's only about three months until 2015 ends.

Once we get beyond the dizzying realization that 2015 has passed so quickly (and also that Christmas is now less than three months off), we do well to consider what financial decisions and planning will put us in the best position for a successful 2016, and beyond.

The crush of daily events can cause people to put off thinking about year-end financial decisions all the way up to the moment that they run smack into the calendar deadline, and vow to start earlier next year.

Now is that time.

This isn't an all-inclusive list of strategic financial considerations, but it can introduce you to a financial strategy or tactics to use within a strategy, or perhaps encourage you to explore the subject of year-end planning in greater depth.

If you've had changes in your life -- or none at all -- you might need to make changes in your tax withholding amount.

Such major life developments as having children, getting married, or ending a marriage, mean it's time to review how much you're having withheld from your paycheck for tax purposes.

Even if you've had no major life alterations, it's still a good time to review your withholding. A large federal income tax refund may seem desirable, but in effect you're making a low-interest personal loan to the government and denying yourself use of your own money throughout the year.

Start a retirement account (if you haven't done so already) or max out your yearly contribution to a plan in which you're already participating.

Every year we see new surveys and data that show Americans aren't saving enough for retirement. Experience shows that many Americans in their 20s and 30s think they have plenty of time. In their 40s and 50s they get nervous and step it up, and in their 60s they're wondering how to make their money last through retirement.

Whatever programs your employer offers -- IRA, 401k, or one of the other IRS-approved plans -- join, and if at all possible contribute the maximum annual amount. …

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