NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Don’t look now but 2017 is quickly coming to a close! This morning, financial expert Roger Cowen stopped by our studio to talk about 5 smart money moves you can make now that will help your finances in 2018 and beyond.
1. Prep for Tax Season
The tax filing season opens in January, so now is a good time to get ready.
Start by getting organized.
Get folders for all your income, expenses and deductions and your investments.
You can break your deductions down by category; for example, create sections for medical, charity and business.
You can even do a dry run on your taxes so you have a better idea of your tax situation.
It’s a good idea to do this before the end of the year, because you still have time to take action if you choose to.
2. Reduce Your Tax Bill
There are several steps you can take before the end of the year to reduce your tax bill.
Look for any payments you can make early, like your January mortgage payment.
If you can make it in December, you can deduct the interest on the current year.
If you have a 401(k) at work, bump up your contributions so more of your income is tax-deferred.
And, of course, be charitable! Donations made to charities in 2017 may be deductible on this year’s taxes.
It can all be confusing, so see a tax professional if you have any questions.
3. Set Your 2018 Financial Plan
Take a comprehensive look at your finances.
Did you have any unnecessary expenses in 2017 that you can cut next year? Can you bump up your savings in 2018?
If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to set one!
You may also want to set up a meeting with your financial professional for an annual review, especially if you’re approaching retirement, so you can make any necessary adjustments.
4. Convert to a Roth IRA
You may want to consider converting some of your money from a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.
Here’s why: You do not get upfront tax breaks on a Roth IRA, however, your withdrawals are made tax-free as long as you are older than 59 1/2.
But here’s the catch. Roth IRAs are subject to what’s called the 5-year rule; you cannot withdraw your earnings tax-free until five years after the tax year you make your first contribution.
No matter when you make a conversion in 2017, the clock gets set back to January 1st, 2017.
So, if you make a conversion in November or December, it’s like getting a free year! You’ll be able to start withdrawing your earnings tax-free a full year earlier than if you wait until next January.