By Jane Young, CFP, EA
Labor Day generally signals the beginning of fall - with kids back in school and most of our summer vacations behind us. This is a good time to work on your 2023 financial tasks before the rush of the holiday season. Additionally, we tend to spend more in summer. According to a Capital One Study, 87% of Americans say they spend more money on socializing during summer months that any other time.
If you had too much fun this summer, review and adjust your spending habits to get back on track. You also may want to review and revise your budget to meet your financial goals. If you accumulated a hefty credit card balance, prioritize paying it off. If that is not possible, research options to consolidate the debt at a lower interest rate and create a strategic repayment plan.
While working on your budget, be sure to create a spending plan for holiday expenses – including travel. Save money by creating a holiday budget before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins. You will benefit from getting started on your holiday shopping and booking your holiday travel early.
Review systematic contributions to your retirement plans, Health Savings Accounts, and 529 plans. If your goal is to maximize or increase your contributions now is the time to make these adjustments and spread the increase over several months.
Invest idle cash sitting in bank accounts into certificates of deposit (CDs). Many banks are currently paying at least 5% for federally insured CDs with maturities of three months to two years. Move cash that will not be needed over the next few months into a CD.
As we approach the final quarter of the year, you should have a clear picture of your 2023 income. If you have experienced major changes in income or deductions, ask your tax preparer to run some projections to adjust your withholdings or estimated taxes. Addressing this now will give you several months to absorb the adjustment.
If you are over 73 or you have inherited a retirement plan, you probably need to take a required minimum distribution (RMD). You can take your RMD anytime during the year so jump on this before the year end crunch. If you plan to make a charitable contribution, consider using your RMD to make a tax free, qualified charitable deduction. This is also a good time to think about gifts to family and other charitable giving.
Prepare for open enrollment that usually occurs every fall. Set aside time to thoroughly review your employee benefits that may include health, disability, and life insurance along with other health benefits.Check your credit reports. Fraud increases during the summer due to the accelerated level of spending and travel. You can order your free annual credit reports by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This is the only site authorized by the federal government to issue free annual credit reports.