We’re heading toward the end of the year. Hopefully, you checked off “begin holiday planning” on your October financial checklist. If not, there’s still time to put together a budget and figure out how you are going to break down all of your holiday costs.
If you are ready to move forward, though, here are 5 items for your November financial checklist:
1. Plan to Use Your Flex Spending
The money in a Health Savings Account rolls over from year to year. Your health flex spending account offered by your employer, or “cafeteria plan”, does not. In most cases, your flex spending plan is a use it or lose it situation. You don’t want to lose it, so plan how you can spend it. Consider non-covered procedures, co-pays for regular health care visits and more. Find out what you can spend the money in your flex spending plan for, and plan out how you can use it.
2. Look for Seasonal Savings
Now is a great time to shop the sales. Clearance sales are going on for toys and baby products. Stores need to clear their shelves for the new merchandise coming in for Christmas, so it’s a great time to get a good deal on items on your holiday shopping list. On top of that, look for the last vestiges of summer to be on clearance at big discounts. Gas grills and patio furniture are at especially attractive prices right now.
3. Consider Selling Some of Your Losing Investments
If you are ready to cut loose from some of your losing stocks, and if you are looking for a tax deduction, now might be a good time to sell. Consider your options, and think about whether the investment is holding you back from something. If it is, it might be worth it to sell it for a loss. Run the numbers, and remember that you will need to be careful to avoid the IRS “wash sale rule” that will negate your deduction if you buy the investment back within 30 days.
4. Time the Way You Buy and Sell Mutual Funds
While we’re on the subject of investments, make sure you consider the timing when buying and selling mutual funds. Before you make a decision about mutual funds, look at when dividend and capital gains distributions are made. In many cases, you want to sell your funds before that date, and buy them after that date.
5. Do an Inventory of Your Gift Cards
Go through your gift cards and any rebate cards you might have received in the last little while. Figure out which ones have money remaining on them. You can use these cards as part of your holiday shopping plan. Use them to help you buy gifts for others, or to buy the necessary food and decorations for holiday entertaining. This can help you stretch your holiday budget, reducing what you spend out of pocket right now. Make sure you pay attention to expiration dates and other fees that might be associated with the cards in question.