November is a big birthday month in my family.  My two sisters and father have birthdays in November.  So not only do I have to worry about their birthday gifts, but I also must start addressing Christmas shopping!  November is always an absentmindedly expensive month for me, and then you add some additional expenses like gifts.

Black Friday is only a few weeks away.  Granted we must get through Thanksgiving first.  I feel like the build up to Thanksgiving is more for Black Friday than Thanksgiving.  So here are some Thanksgiving facts.  The average Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $50.11.  Drinks will run you an additional $18.90 for some wine.  Follow that up with $938.58 spent per shopper on Black Friday and you have yourself quite a few days of spending.  I would recommend you start planning out your Thanksgiving week now.  Obviously, account for your gifts and food, but also consider your wrapping paper, decorations, and anything you use for entertainment.  These various expenses add up quickly.

There is more planning to consider: Charitable donations.  The ability to write-off charitable donations is based on your ability to get it done by year-end. Start generating your list of groups you would like to support. Then, to confirm they are an eligible group and are putting your money to good use, search the organizations on Guidestar.  This site will give you reviews of the organizations and provide you statistics on how much of the money goes towards the actual cause.

If you are turning 70.5 or are older than 70.5 and have money in a tax-deferred account, you typically will want to make sure your required minimum distributions are taken before year end.  If it is your first year, you could delay it to April 1st of the following year; however, why defer that distribution since you still must take the second one by year-end?  The amount you withdraw is based on the prior year-end balance.  If you fail to take the distribution by the due-date, your penalty could be 50% of the amount not distributed.

Have a great November and Happy Thanksgiving!