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Year-end fiscal checklist


ALL THOSE “beat the rush!” ads for holiday shopping will begin soon enough but, right now, you have a great opportunity to beat the rush to organize your year-end finances and make some smart moves for the new year.
Total up your year-to-date spending. Make sure your tracking system for spending, saving and investment is up to date so you can make sure you are on budget for the year and ready with data for tax time. When finished, determine your net worth – what you own less what you owe – for an early idea of what you need to change next year.
Check in with your advisers. Late December is a busy time for financial professionals. See if they can review your numbers now and make suggestions on year-end financial activities and new moves you should make in 2016.
Review all your credit reports. You are entitled to one annual free copy of each of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Schedule delivery of each at different points in the year to catch errors or irregularities.
Check your portfolio. With the dramatic market swings this year, check that your retirement and other investments are still on track with your goals. Seek qualified help if necessary to see if the assets you own still fit your needs and if you need to do any tax selling by the end of the year.
Check your insurance coverage. Contact agents representing two or three highly rated insurers for your home, auto, life and other insurance to review the adequacy and pricing of your coverage. Make sure any structural changes or improvements to your home are reflected in your homeowners insurance. Such work may boost your home’s replacement value. If you’ve had a major life or financial event, like a new baby or the purchase of a new home, make sure your coverage is sufficient.
Update benefits and health coverage. Stay on top of your W-2, benefits and estate planning. Seek qualified help if necessary to see if your tax withholding and employee health coverage and investments need review.
Empty out flexible spending accounts. If you have a flexible account for health care or other qualifying expenses, it’s time to submit outstanding claims from your doctor, dentist or optometrist. You can only transfer $500 of your remaining balance to next year, so make all the appointments or medical purchases you need now and submit paperwork quickly.
Do a last-minute tax review. See if there’s anything you can do in the final weeks of the year to save on taxes. If tax-deductible donations to qualified charities and nonprofits are recommended, websites such as GuideStar, CharityWatch and Charity Navigator can evaluate your choices.
Use online bill pay and deposit services. Scheduling bill payment through your checking and savings accounts and setting up regular electronic deposits to savings and investment accounts can save time and money.
Bottom line: Doing a last-minute review of your finances can potentially save money and help you save, spend and invest smarter in the coming year.
Nathaniel Sillin directs Visa’s Practical Money Skills For Life financial education programs. Follow him on Twitter at His articles are intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a tax or financial adviser for information on how the law applies to your individual financial circumstances.

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