Money Moves to Consider Before the End of the Year

Before watching the ball-drop, before singing Auld Lang Syne, in fact well before New Year’s Eve approaches, consider taking care of these year-end personal financial to-dos.

If you itemize deductions on your income tax return and want to make charitable donations for next year’s return, do it before Dec. 31. “I like to look around my house toward the end of the year and see what I can donate,” said Brie Reyes, a certified financial planner with Estes Financial in Fort Worth, Texas. Get receipts or canceled checks for cash donations over $250, and receipts describing non-cash donations.

Like charitable deductions, deferring income must happen before Dec. 31. If you are a self-employed contractor, consider delaying payments until after Jan. 1. You’ll postpone paying taxes on that income for a year, and potentially get the benefit of any upcoming tax cuts, advised Tim Estes, certified financial planner and Estes Financial president.

Make Any Required Minimum Distributions

People aged 70 1/2 or older with tax-deferred retirement accounts have a particularly important must-do. Federal law requires people that age to take minimum annual distributions from retirement plans or pay a 50 percent penalty, plus any taxes due on the withdrawn funds. “It can get real expensive real quick,” warned Estes. This to-do also has a firm year-end deadline.

Members of health plans with flexible spending accounts (FSA) should check whether they must spend FSA funds during the current year. Some plans have a grace period of two and a half months into the next year. Others may allow for a $500 carryover to use next year. If yours is “use it or lose it,” consider accelerating eligible health expenses.

If you own stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other investments that have lost value, consider asking your tax planner about selling them before year-end. This is sometimes referred to as tax-loss harvesting. The resulting loss may shelter gains on other investments from income taxes on next year’s return — if you record losses by Dec. 31.

Optional Year-End To-Dos

In addition to these must-dos with firm year-end deadlines, there are might-dos. For instance, you should probably consider maxing out contributions to IRA and 401(k) accounts, but you have until next tax filing deadline to do so. “A lot of people think you have to make their IRA contributions by December 31 when actually you don’t have to make it until April,” noted Dolph Janis, owner of Clear Income Strategies in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As a general recommendation, Janis asks clients to do an annual financial checkup in December, evaluating progress toward spending, saving, investing and debt-reduction goals. “Do an end-of the year review and ask if you’ve accomplished the things you want to accomplish for this year and what you want to accomplish for next year,” he suggested.

Consolidate Debt

If you have high interest debt sitting around that you’ve been meaning to address, a debt consolidation loan may be a consideration before the year is up.

It’s one of many ways to save money, which is a common New Year’s resolution.

Having as much of your debt in one place, with one payment, could help you keep track of payments and perhaps better manage your budget.

Other optional to-dos may include funding health savings accounts, updating beneficiaries on insurance policies and other documents, consolidating accounts and checking tax withholding selections. You can do these any time. But December 31 is, if nothing else, a marker for getting off to a good start in the new year.

By Mark Henricks

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23 Steps to Become the Next Warren Buffett

In February 2016 Dolph Janis contributed to an article on the article is titled:

 “23 Steps to Become the Next Warren Buffett”

Ashley Redmond

Did you know that Buffett attended college for only three years — two at the Wharton School of Business and one at the University of Nebraska?

Although college costs weren’t nearly as high as they are today, it’s likely that Buffett saved money by finishing college in three years instead of four. And today’s college students will likely save even more.

Millennials Are Wary of Debt, Unthinkably Optimistic About the Future

In January 2016 Dolph Janis contributed to an article on the article is titled:

 “Millennials Are Wary of Debt, Unthinkably Optimistic About the Future”

Written By Chris Metinko   , January 1, 2015

Kate Dye was able to graduate from college without owing a dollar — and she has no plans of changing her liability-averse financial situation anytime soon.

“I still live like I’m in school and in a city with low rent,” said the 25-year-old resident of Hamilton, Ontario in Canada who works as a health consultant. “I don’t want to go into debt, because I want to have the freedom to travel or make a career change to do something I am passionate about. Not now, but in a few years. I think most of my life milestones are going to happen later than they did for my parents, and debt is one of them.”

Laid Off? 9 Changes to Make Today

In December 2015 Dolph Janis contributed to an article on the article is titled:

 “Laid Off? 9 Changes to Make Today”

Written By  , December 5, 2015


Getting laid off can be an overwhelming experience. You’re likely dealing with a mix of emotions, from relief to fear to frustration, and more. Whether you have warning or not, a layoff is almost always unwelcome news.

Outside of the obvious need to begin a job search, you also have the financial impact of unemployment. In some instances, a severance package can help lighten the blow. Unless you have a fully stocked emergency fund, weathering the potential financial storm heading your way requires action on everything from filing for unemployment to slashing expenses.

Here are nine actions to take today if you’ve been laid off.


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How to Plan For Retirement if You Don’t Work

In December 2015 Dolph Janis contributed to an article on the article is titled:

“How to Plan For Retirement if You Don’t Work”

Written By: David Arv Bragi Money


Setting aside money for retirement is easier when you have a great job. But what if you don’t? If your spouse works while you manage the house, a premature death or divorce could leave you struggling to save. If you’re disabled or just can’t work regularly, building up a nest egg on your own could likewise be a problem.

Start making plans now so you’ll have a financial cushion later in life.


Are You Guessing Or Planning For Your Retirement?

This month Dolph Janis was published in Fortune Magazine the article is titled:

“Are You Guessing Or Planning For Your Retirement?”


Milestones define our lives. Whether it’s making the team, graduating from college, or getting that first job, goals are set and dreams are realized. When you reach retirement age, it is important to ensure your financial goals are realistic. Everyone should enjoy retirement. But there are many factors that can tarnish your Golden Years.

When you are thinking about all the preparations for retirement, i.e. when, where, how and such, does the thought of safety come to your mind?


Weather-Proofing Your Nest Egg

This month Dolph Janis was published in Money Magazine the article is titled:

“Weather-Proofing Your Nest Egg: The Smart Way to Plan”


Imagine you are going on a family vacation. You pick the dates, find the hotel, and create a budget. In the perfect world, everything goes as planned. Then, a storm blows in and changes everything. Do you have a back-up plan? Things change, and you have to prepare for the unknown. The same principal applies to your retirement goals.

Preparing for retirement is a task within itself. The choices feel endless, and ultimately you will make the decisions that will define your retirement. Oftentimes, people believe they have a system in place, and then the weather takes a turn for the worse.