Change of seasons brings fresh eye for finances

By Karen Lee

Fall is the perfect time to refocus on your financial goals for the year. Summer is paired with vacations, barbecues with friends and treats for the kids during their time off. For financial planners, it’s a challenging time to meet with clients. Once the season shifts and school resumes, however, schedules become structured again.

Use your momentum from the season’s change to implement a financial plan for the rest of the year. Consider decisions that will impact your budget over the next three months. Fall and winter bring predictable changes, so here are some tips to help you plan for success:

• Take advantage of summer sales to purchase wardrobe staples. Shop the clearance racks for year-round items like sleeveless tops, cardigans and shorts. Don’t overspend, spend smart.

• Contact your financial advisor as soon as open enrollment begins.This allows time for us to suggest changes, additions or modifications to existing benefits. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help.

• Start tax planning. Maximize your 401K contributions, and make sure you’ve withheld enough taxes. Self-employed? Some retirement plans for the current tax year must be established before Dec. 31.

• Distribute holiday spending. Don’t be a last-minute shopper who blows the budget because of poor planning. Make a list, check it twice and start shopping now.

• Maximize your group benefits. If you’ve met your health insurance deductible, schedule all your doctor’s appointments prior to year-end, and make sure you’ve claimed your flex spending dollars.

• Consider selling appreciated assets before year-end. It’s highly likely that the capital gains tax will increase from its current low rate of 15%. Stocks, bonds, real estate, businesses and valuables are all examples of appreciated assets that might be subject to this tax.

• Review annual charitable giving. Clean out closets and drawers to donate to the charity of your choice and consider additional monetary gifts before year-end.

BIO: Karen Lee’s passion for helping people achieve their life’s goals has moved her to reach an audience beyond her practice as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER. She is a frequent guest on CNN Newsroom and her articles have appeared in both industry and consumer publications. She is the author of the book, “It’s Just Money, So Why Does it Cause So Many Problems?”

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