Money Matters: Year-end financial checklist

Education Resources,

As the end of the year quickly approaches, holiday gift shopping season may be the main financial to do item for many families, but there’s a lot more to do before January 1 to head into the new year financially healthy.

Here are 10 items for any year-end money checklist – and each could make a good educational story:

1. Check your withholding and make adjustments as necessary using a withholding calculator.

2. If you plan to itemize, prepay deductible expenses due in January.

3. Check your medical bills. Unreimbursed medical expenses can be deducted, but only if they exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. It’s also open enrollment season, a good time to check your health plan benefits and look into alternatives.

4. Look into refinancing to take advantage of interest rate cuts.

5. Check tuition bills and college savings plans. Distributions from college savings plans must happen in sync with tuition bills and the plan rules to avoid tax and penalties. Financial aid offices can help with this timing.

6. Contribute to college savings plans and 401(k) plans. Check annual contribution limits and max them out if you can.

7. Sell losing investments. Reduce taxable income by selling investments that have lost value. Check with a financial planner for specific rules for different types of investments.

8. Declutter and donate. Take advantage of tax deductions by maximizing the dollar value of cash and goods you’ve donated this year.

9. Check whether your flexible spending accounts roll over or must be used. In many cases, flex accounts must be emptied by the end of the year.

10. Review your estate plan. It’s always a good idea to review annually as part of your year-end financial health checkup.

Find more about planning year-end financial checkups in Kiplinger and Forbes.

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education