Falling leaves and colder weather signal that the year is winding down; but often, our schedules are ramping up. With so many holidays on the horizon, Fall can become a season of impulse buys and rash spending. Be aware of this and use Fall to plan ahead and budget before the holiday hustle. You’ll thank yourself when January comes! Here are some tips to help you get started.
Get a jump on holiday spending.
According to a recent survey, about 80% of holiday gift buyers put off shopping until after Thanksgiving. To avoid overspending in the last minute scramble, use Fall to shop for presents and book holiday travel. You can also plan holiday meals ahead of time and make lists of exactly what you’ll need. The more you’re prepared, the less likely you are to wreck your budget come December!
Take inventory of your recurring purchases.
With so many subscription services available nowadays, we can often end up with more monthly charges than intended. Check your accounts for recurring charges and decide which items or services you really want and need heading into the new year. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you should also check for recurring in-app buys that you’re no longer using to cut down on charges each month.
Take advantage of deductibles or FSA funds.
If you’ve met your health insurance deductible for the year, think about any doctor’s appointments, tests or procedures that you or any family members may need. Ask your insurance provider if those items are covered, and if so, schedule healthcare appointments before January. Also fill any prescriptions. If you opt into and fund a flexible spending account (FSA) through your employer, don’t lose out on that pre-tax income. Plan and execute how you want to spend any remaining funds before the end of the year — or the extension if applicable. Your employer may offer a 2.5-month extension to use your balance or allow you to rollover $500 into the next year. Possibilities include new eyeglasses, dermatological needs, physical therapy needs, first-aid supplies, contraceptives and more. Don’t forget to submit the necessary claims to be reimbursed.
Use vacation time.
If you have leftover vacation time that doesn’t rollover, make a plan to use it, even if you don’t head out of town. A staycation can be just as refreshing, or maybe it’s finally time to tackle that house project. Independent contractors and small business owners should treat themselves to time off, too. Doing so can help you return to work refreshed and ready for an even more productive year to come
Check in on your retirement contributions.
Retirement may seem about as far out as another planet, but the earlier you squirrel funds into your retirement account, the better you’ll be. That’s because of a wonderful thing called compounding interest. As the year comes to a close, take a look at your 401(k) contribution and see if it makes sense to up it. Maybe you’ve earned a raise recently. If you have an IRA or Roth IRA, decide if this year warrants a larger contribution and either make it or set aside the cash to do so before tax time in the new year.
Want to learn more about becoming financially fit and preparing for the future? Talk to an agent today!
Source: Farm Bureau Financial Services