Out with the old and in with the new! We’ve made the final turn on the journey of 2017, with 2018 straight ahead. There were lots of ups and downs this year and if we’re going to make it through the home stretch we need a game plan that will not only get us through the holidays, but set us up for a great start to the new year as well. Fortunately, we’ve got some great tips on just how to accomplish both of those goals.

Set and stay on a budget. This is sound financial advice regardless of what time of year it is. During the holidays, it becomes easier to tell ourselves that we can fudge a little here and there and just catch back up after the holidays are over. While this sounds easy enough, we all know how quickly things can change financially and betting on tomorrow to pay for today is a risky gamble. Decide in advance how much you plan on spending and stick to that number! Research in advance costs for travel, gifts, decor, etc and manage accordingly. Santa is a legend, not an actual person. Don’t try to live up to unreasonable holiday expectations by abandoning reason and trying to max out every credit card you have more gifts.

Review your retirement/investment portfolio. End of the year is a good time to take a look over your investments and retirement financials to see what is working and what needs attention. Make sure you aren’t leaving anything on the vine as the year comes to an end, and make necessary adjustments to ensure that you are getting the best returns possible on your money.

Double check your bills. Look over your monthly commitments and see if you can leverage better offers against current billing. Most TV/Internet packages have varying levels of cost depending on how long you’ve had the service and can be negotiated down if you mention changing carriers or service plans. The same goes for insurance. Make sure you are getting the best deals you can by researching online the various options you have.

Assess your tax situation. Did you have any life-changing events happen this year? Get married or have children? Changed jobs, moved or started a new business? All of these things will impact your current tax liability. It would be prudent to discuss any of these changes with a professional who can help guide you towards the best results you can get on your next tax return.

Save that bonus! If you are fortunate enough to receive a financial bonus for your hard work this year, don’t look at it as a way to turn Santa into Super Santa this season. Treat it as it truly is: a bonus to your income. Reinvest that money into your savings or retirement plan and truly make the most of it.

Fully flex out your FLEX spending account. There are some FLEX spending accounts that will allow for a portion of funds to be carried over into the following year but for most folks the money you choose to put in your FLEX spending account won’t carry over into 2018. Check your plan to see if you can do so, but if you cannot, now is the time to stock up on supplies to ensure you won’t leave any money behind when the calendar turns over to January.

Give some back to charity. Those in need will not turn away help just because it’s so late in the year. Give help now and you will assist those who need it immediately while also lowering your tax bill for next year so long as you claim it on your returns.

Take some time to follow these tips and you can get a great head start on your 2018. Dolaghan Law is here to help you when you need it, and we wish you the happiest of holidays and a happy new year!

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