In one short week, we begin the 4th quarter of 2017. WOW, where does time go? That means it’s crunch time.
Have you updated your financial plan for 2018? Have you updated your tax strategy for next year and beyond? Do you even have a forward-looking tax strategy, or are you one of those people that just writes a check based on what your CPA tells you too? If so, that’s rear-view mirror stuff and it’s probably costing you thousands of dollars per year!
I meet with folks every single day who are already retired or getting close, and they tell me that time becomes even more precious. There’s a realization that hits you when you’re in your 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s that you have to make good use of every ounce of time you’ve been given. You want to take that trip you always put off while you were working. You want to squeeze out every possible minute of playtime with the grandkids. You may want to hit the golf course as much as possible. All of that takes time, and let’s face it…it takes money too.
I’ve been in this business for over 30 years. It seems like yesterday that I got started, but there’s a reason people call us “The Retirement Guys.” We’ve gotten really good at helping people build their retirement master plan. That retirement master plan includes making key decisions at certain times to help you keep more money in your pocket. You must have a forward-looking tax strategy.
You also need to have a Tactically managed portfolio that constantly adjusts to what’s happening in the economy and the markets; every single minute of every single day. Unfortunately, most people have a passive strategy, often thinking that their money is being managed actively. If you’re relying on buy-and-hold, or what it really is, buy-and-hope at this stage of your life…you’re destined for disaster. We know that hope isn’t an investment strategy.
So, I’m going to take advantage of what little time we have left in 2017 to help you get ready to retire comfortably & successfully, or stay that way if you are already retired.
7 Financial Moves to Make Before 2018
- Make any 401(k) Adjustments: Any contributions to a 401K or 403B must be made prior to December 31st. Now is the time to see if you’ve maxed out your contributions ($18,000/additional $6,000 catch-up) or hit your desired goal. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you’ve hit your cap for any employer matching.
- Check your IRA contributions: December 31st is the deadline for 401K contributions, however, the IRS gives you a little more time with IRAs. You can do that up until tax day. Don’t wait until the last minute though, make sure you plan your contributions before the end of the year. Remember, for 2017 the IRA limits are $5,500 under age 50 and $6,500 50 or older.
- What I call my “Marginal Tax Distribution Strategy”. You need your IRA to be as small as possible once the government starts stealing your money through RMD’s at 70 ½. Roth conversions are a good long-term tax strategy. Converting funds from an IRA to a Roth would increase your tax lability for the year so it may be a good time to look and see how much room you have before the next tax bracket. Remember, withdrawals from a Roth are tax free after the Roth has been seasoned for 5 years.
- Don’t Forget Your RMDs: If you’re 70 ½ or older you need to plan on taking your RMD prior to December 31st. Remember, if you don’t to take out your required minimum distribution, the IRS can impose a fine of 50% of the value that you failed to take out.
- Give Back to Your Favorite Charity or Charities: For those of you that are doing itemized deductions, make sure you make your charitable contribution for the year. Also keep in mind that the government extended charitable qualified contributions. This means you can donate your RMD to a charity without incurring a tax hit provided certain requirements are met. My favorite of course is my Springer Turkey Challenge.
- Make Sure You Have a Retirement Master Plan – not just a bunch of investments. Remember, do the planning. If you don’t tell your money exactly what to do, it will do the wrong thing or nothing at all. The end of the year is a great time to look at your investments and assess your asset allocations. This is especially important as you continue to max out your contributions to retirement accounts.
- Be the expert or hire one!