10519508175_f3ced9dfc21Jan­u­ary:

Increase retire­ment account con­tri­bu­tions:  A new year some­times means increas­ing retire­ment account con­tri­bu­tion lim­its.  For 2016, the 401(k) lim­it is $18,000.  If you are already max­ing out your employ­er spon­sored plan, con­sid­er­ing review­ing IRAs, tax­able accounts, or some tax deferred annuities.

Feb­ru­ary:

Begin tax doc­u­ment col­lec­tion:  Most of your tax forms will come to you by the end of Feb­ru­ary.  Col­lect your tax forms, and any sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion for deductible items, such as char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tion receipts, invest­ment advi­so­ry expens­es, etc.

March:

Find addi­tion­al deduc­tion or adjust­ments to income:  If you are work­ing with your tax advi­sor, they will gen­er­al­ly help you.  If you are on your own, deter­mine, among oth­er things, eli­gi­bil­i­ty for IRA and HSA contributions.

April:

File your tax­es if you haven’t already:  April 18, 2016 is the tax-fil­ing dead­line this year.  Take note of pos­si­ble missed deduc­tion or adjust­ments so you can use them to your advan­tage in the cur­rent tax year.

May:

Cre­ate a mas­ter file:  This file should con­tain an item­ized list of your finan­cial accounts.  At least have the provider infor­ma­tion, if noth­ing else.  For your heirs’ sake, pro­vide as much infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble, such as account num­bers, points of con­tact, and phone num­bers.  Most impor­tant­ly, safe guard the list against theft but let your heirs know of its existence.

June:

Under­stand what your invest­ment phi­los­o­phy should be:  Address what your invest­ment cri­te­ria are, asset allo­ca­tion is, time­frame for rebal­anc­ing is, etc.  Keep it sim­ple. If you are work­ing with an advi­sor, ask for their invest­ment phi­los­o­phy state­ment.  Review your invest­ments to make sure they are in line with your invest­ment philosophy.

July:

Check in:  Review what you have com­plet­ed in the pre­vi­ous six months, while putting in place a plan for the next six months.  Con­firm your bud­get is work­ing appro­pri­ate­ly, while also plan­ning out the bud­get updates for Hol­i­day shop­ping, trav­el, etc.

August:

Update your ben­e­fi­cia­ries:  If ben­e­fi­cia­ries are assigned to a 401(k), IRA, or HSA, your ben­e­fi­cia­ry des­ig­na­tions super­sede the will.  Not every­one will make an update to ben­e­fi­cia­ries after a life change, so make an effort once per year to review your beneficiaries.

Sep­tem­ber:

Con­duct a ben­e­fits review:  Open enroll­ment is usu­al­ly going to start next month.  Begin review­ing your employ­er pro­vid­ed ben­e­fits to make sure they fit your need.  Many peo­ple aren’t prop­er­ly tak­ing advan­tage of all the ben­e­fits they do have.  Sit down with your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er and review the offer­ing.  Ask your­self if you are leav­ing mon­ey on the table by not tak­ing advan­tage of the full offer­ing of benefits.

Octo­ber:

Begin year-end tax plan­ning:  Octo­ber is a great month to review your tax sit­u­a­tion for the year.  Among oth­er things, con­sid­er Roth con­ver­sions, tax-loss har­vest­ing, char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions, etc. Speak with your tax advi­sor to see if there are any actions you can take by year end.

Novem­ber:

Hol­i­day Shop­ping begins:  Black Fri­day and Cyber Mon­day have got­ten out of con­trol.  Begin cre­at­ing a shop­ping list/budget for the Hol­i­day sea­son.  Many times you can get alerts from your favorite web­sites about upcom­ing deals.  This is a great way to save an unnec­es­sary trip to the over­crowd­ed stores.

Decem­ber:

Reflect:  Too often we for­get to take stock of what we have done in the year.  It is a great time to do so both per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly.   Since employ­er reviews and bonus reviews can come late in the year, take an inven­to­ry of things you accom­plished through the year. Make your case for that big raise or year-end bonus.