Autumn has truly arrived, and it is time to think about what you can do get your finances in shape for the end of the year. You should be building on some of the items from September’s financial checklist, and adding a few more items for the month of October:
If you filed for an extension for your tax return, the reckoning has arrived. Your tax return needs to be filed by October 15 (you should already have what you think you owe in taxes). Continue your efforts to incorporate year-end tax deductions and credits to reduce your tax liability. It is also a good time to start organizing your paperwork. Spend a few minutes each week making sure you have your documents organized so that you are better prepared — and less stressed — come tax time.
2. Rebalance Your Portfolio
Look at your investment portfolio and determine whether you need to rebalance. Your asset allocation may have strayed from what you would like, or it may no longer be meeting your needs. Maybe you have investments that have gone up and might be considered richly valued that you may want to cash out. If you have funds, check to make sure that they are still what you want, and that there isn’t too much overlap between holdings in each fund. Now is a great time to examine your investments, and decide what needs to go. Remember: some investment losses are tax deductible.
3. Prepare for Open Enrollment
For many companies, now is open enrollment for health plans. Between health care reform and a shift by companies toward more high deductible plan options, you are likely to have a little more reading to do this year. Carefully consider your health insurance needs, and decide whether or not you might need to make changes. Consider dropping some coverage, or adding new coverage. Carefully compare your options, and make sure you understand what you are getting. If you don’t have a high deductible plan paired with a health savings account, you might consider it, since for some it can save a great deal of money in health care costs.
4. Emergency Preparedness
This month, consider your emergency preparedness. Look to your emergency savings account to see whether it has been depleted. If so, create a plan to get it back up to snuff. If you don’t have an emergency savings account, now is a great time to start one up. You should also consider your liquid assets, and whether ready cash is to hand. Also, think about such things a food storage and emergency supplies (batteries, radio, first aid kit, etc.) and decide whether you might begin to acquire supplies. This way, you are ready for unexpected problems.
5. Holiday Planning
It’s a great time to begin planning for the holiday season, if you haven’t already. Consider whether or not you will be entertaining, what gifts you plan to buy, and decorations you will purchase. Try to estimate costs. Begin now to set money aside to pay for holiday spending, so that it is not such a shock to your wallet. Having a good idea of what to expect can prevent you from relying too much on debt this holiday season.