Your Year-End Financial Checklist

Published December 4, 2023

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As the year draws to a close, it's a great time to take stock of your financial health and make strategic moves to set yourself up for success in the coming year. Not sure where to start? We’ve assembled a year-end financial checklist to help you make the most of your money and feel confident about your financial future.

#1. Review Your Budget.

Take a close look at your spending patterns throughout the year and identify areas where you can cut costs or reallocate funds for better use. Think about the year ahead and adjust your budget to meet your financial goals.

#2. Take Action on Savings.

Are you saving to buy a house? Hoping to fund a summer vacation? Set yourself up for success in 2024 by opening a dedicated savings or money market account for your financial goal. Having a separate account for each specific objective can help you stay organized and keep you focused on reaching your financial milestones. Once your account is in place, get creative with your budgeting and seek out a method of saving that will be both satisfying and sustainable.

#3. Assess Your Emergency Fund.

Do you have an emergency fund? Evaluate it and confirm that you have enough to cover three to six months' worth of living expenses. If not, make additional contributions to bolster the fund. It is also a good idea to ensure the funds are easily accessible in a liquid account (like a Premium or Indexed Money Market Account).

#4. Maximize Retirement Contributions.

If you want to lower your tax burden for 2024, now is a great time to make additional IRA or 401(k) contributions. You have until Tax Day (April 15, 2024) to make contributions up to your 2023 limit ($6,500 for individuals and $7,500 for those 50 or older). Then between January 1, 2024 and Tax Day 2025, you can contribute an additional $7,000 for individuals and $8,000 for people 50 or older. Also, if you aren’t already doing so, take advantage of any employer matching contributions to boost your retirement savings.

#5. Contribute to your Health Savings Account (HSA).

Another way to reduce the amount of federal tax you owe is by making additional contributions to your HSA before the year ends. Unlike FSAs (see below), the funds contributed to an HSA remain in your account from year to year. HSA contributions, investment earnings, and distributions are not subject to federal taxation (but may or may not be subject to state taxation) and any unused funds can be used to pay for future qualified medical expenses.

#6. Check your Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

Most FSAs have a “use it or lose it” policy that expires at the end of the calendar year. If your employer does not allow FSA balances to roll over into the next year, make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table. If you have money left in your account, schedule doctor’s appointments as quickly as possible or submit outstanding medical bills for reimbursement before time runs out.

#7. Do a Health Insurance Checkup.

Before the new year (and New Year’s resolutions) review your insurance coverage and assess if your health plan meets your current and upcoming needs. Update your information and ensure that your insurance plans are in line with any changes to your health, marital status, or living situation. Open enrollment though Healthcare.gov runs through December 15, which means you still have time to compare plans and evaluate your options. Also, if you are using a traditional savings account to set aside funds for possible medical expenses (like dental work, surgery, or emergencies) consider starting a FSA or HSA for medical expenses in 2024.

#8. Tackle Debt.

Do you have a lot of debt? Take stock of your outstanding debts and prioritize repayment. If you can, consolidate or refinance high-interest debts for better terms. Develop a plan to systematically pay down debts in 2024, starting with high-interest obligations. If you need help, we have free one-on-one financial counseling to help set you on the right path.

#9. Evaluate Your Investment Portfolio.

Before 2024, take a moment to review the performance of your investment portfolio and (potentially) diversify your investments to manage risk effectively. If necessary, rebalance your portfolio to align with your long-term financial objectives.

#10. Reassess Your Insurance Coverage.

If it has been a while since you changed your home, life, or auto insurance, we’ve got bad news. You may not be getting the best deal. Insurance carriers tend to thrive on customer complacency, so if you aren’t regularly shopping around for better rates (particularly car insurance rates), you may be underinsured or paying too much. Experts recommend re-evaluating your auto insurance options every six to 12 months and home insurance once per year—especially if you move, get married, or have other big life moments. You don’t have to leave your current carrier and you don’t even have to wait until your current policy runs out. Just ask your current carrier or one of the Maps insurance agents to reassess your rates. Also, if you aren’t already doing so, consider bundling your policies for potential cost savings. (And while you are at it, be sure to update beneficiaries and their contact information.)

#11. Solidify Your Estate Planning.

Once a year, it’s wise to ensure your will, trust, and other estate planning documents are up to date. If you don’t already have a will, trust, or estate plan, start the process of creating one. If necessary, consult with an estate planning attorney for comprehensive guidance. Then once your legal paperwork is complete, take a moment to review and update the beneficiary designations on your bank accounts.

#12. Evaluate Education Savings.

Do you or your children have upcoming education expenses (such as tuition and books)? Manage the hefty sum with a tax-advantaged strategy like a state-based 529 college savings plan. In Oregon, you can contribute to your Oregon College Savings Plan until your account balance is $310,000 or higher (per beneficiary for the life of the plan). If you do, there are tax benefits. By investing in a 529 plan, you can deduct up to $2,225 on your Oregon state income taxes for single filer and $4,455 for married filers.

#13. Make Charitable Donations.

If you want to claim a charitable donation on your 2023 tax return, be sure to make your donations before December 31, 2023. In general, you can deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income through charitable donations (with some limitations). So, keep track of your tax-deductible donations, no matter the amount.

This year-end financial checklist is a proactive step towards securing your financial future. By addressing these key areas, you can enhance your financial well-being, minimize risks, and position yourself for success in the coming year. If you need help budgeting, investing, or protecting yourself and your assets, let us know. We are happy to provide personalized insights and guidance to help you meet your financial (and personal) goals. After all, if you prioritize your financial health now, that effort will pay dividends in the years to come.

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