Financial planning and goal setting get a lot of attention with the start of each new year. But taking time to reflect, assess, and finish the year strong is just as important. Whether it is maximizing your 2023 account contributions and tax deductions taking advantage of any investment losses, or simply setting the foundation for goals in 2024, the last quarter of the year is an opportune time to reflect on your financial journey and set the stage for a successful year to come. Here are a few planning steps to help you prepare financially for the year-end.
Look Back and Look Ahead
Before you dive into the nitty-gritty details of your finances, it's essential to take a step back and engage in both retrospection and projection.
- Review your goals. Start by reflecting on the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year. Have you made progress toward achieving them? Revisiting your goals can provide valuable insights into your financial direction and help you adjust your goal setting for the new year.
- Review your budget. Did you generally stay on track with your budget, or were there areas where you overspent? Your spending trends can inform your plans for the coming year and help you identify areas that need more discipline or where you anticipate higher expenses.
- Set new goals. Once you've assessed your current financial standing, it's time to set clear and realistic financial goals for next year. Whether it's saving for a major purchase, paying down debt, or investing more aggressively, having well-defined goals can keep you motivated and on track.
- Meet with a financial advisor. If you have a financial advisor, consider scheduling a meeting with them to review your financial situation. They can help you make informed decisions and develop a financial plan for the coming year.
Year-end is the perfect time to address your tax situation and take advantage of potential tax-saving opportunities. For a comprehensive approach to tax planning, be sure to consult your advisor and a tax professional.
- Maximize contributions to tax-advantaged accounts. Contribute as much as you can to tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s. These contributions can lower your taxable income and boost your retirement savings. 2023 IRA and Solo 401k contributions can be made through April 15, 2024, while employee deferrals to traditional 401ks must be made by year end.
- Defer asset sales or delay income. If you have control over the timing of income and you expect 2024 to be a lower income year, this could reduce the total tax paid.
- Evaluate Roth IRA conversions. If 2023 is a lower income year for you, it may be advantageous to convert tax-deferred IRA balances to a Roth IRA. Income taxes will be owed on any amount converted, but future growth is tax-free.
- Consider “bunching” deductions. Given the relatively high standard deduction, it could make sense to take the standard deduction in one year and then itemize in the next. This is done by planning larger deductible expenses, such as charitable contributions or medical expenses, in the year you plan to itemize, then taking the standard deduction in years with lower deductible expenses.
- Review estimated tax payments. If you have fallen short on estimated tax payments, consider increasing the withholdings made on wages and bonuses in the fourth quarter. Independent of when they are withheld, these withholdings are deemed to be paid equally over each calendar year quarter. Increasing in the fourth quarter can minimize or eliminate any underpayments in the prior three quarters.
If you intend to make tax-deductible charitable gifts, year-end is a great time to do so. But don’t wait too long to plan your gifts, especially if your strategy involves transferring appreciated securities or funds from institution to institution. Waiting until the last few days of the year can put your gift at risk of not being received in time to qualify for a 2023 tax deduction.
For more guidance, read our article on planning a year-end charitable gift.
Investment Portfolio Review
Your investment portfolio plays a critical role in your overall financial well-being. It's essential to periodically review and adjust it with the guidance of your financial advisor.
- Assess your portfolio. Examine your investments and assess whether they align with your financial goals and risk tolerance. Make necessary adjustments to ensure your portfolio remains in line with your long-term objectives.
- Rebalance 529 accounts. You can change the investment elections in 529 accounts twice per calendar year. Ensuring this allocation is in line with expected distributions and desired risk can maximize the benefits to account holders.
- Consider tax-efficient strategies. When selling investments, consider tax-efficient strategies such as tax-loss harvesting, which can help minimize your capital gains taxes.
It's never too late to take control of your finances for the year and make the most of the opportunities available to you. Finishing the year on strong financial footing will help set you up for success as we enter into 2024. If you have questions about year-end planning, contact your RMB advisor or reach out to our team today.
The opinions and analyses expressed in this newsletter are based on RMB Capital Management, LLC’s (“RMB Capital”) research and professional experience are expressed as of the date of our mailing of this newsletter. Certain information expressed represents an assessment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast or guarantee of future results, nor is it intended to speak to any future time periods. RMB Capital makes no warranty or representation, express or implied, nor does RMB Capital accept any liability, with respect to the information and data set forth herein, and RMB Capital specifically disclaims any duty to update any of the information and data contained in this newsletter. The information and data in this newsletter does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Returns are presented net of fees. An investment cannot be made directly in an index. The index data assumes reinvestment of all income and does not bear fees, taxes, or transaction costs. The investment strategy and types of securities held by the comparison index may be substantially different from the investment strategy and types of securities held by your account. RMB Asset Management is a division of RMB Capital Management.
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