Under the topic of “Give me service”, it is nearing year-end and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to double-check certain items NOW. A great financial adviser (especially an experienced CFP®) can be of service in opening your eyes to certain items making year-end easier and less stressful for you. By the way, for those of you reading this who are not my clients and you have not been asked these by your adviser, then your adviser is not doing his or her job.
Here is a list of questions you should have been asked by your adviser:
1: Is there a big difference (increase/decrease) in your compensation this year versus last year?
If so, and your compensation is greater, then think about talking with your CPA before December 31, 2017 about ways to minimize taxes if possible by making a tax-deductible IRA contribution for a spouse (if allowed), making tax-deductible charitable contributions in 2017 or maxing out your 401k contribution for 2017.*
If not, and your compensation is less than last year, then you could possibly contribute to a Roth IRA (by April 15, 2018) or do a Roth conversion (by December 31, 2017).
2: Did you or your spouse switch jobs this year?
If so, do you know where your 401k monies and/or company stock are? Did you consider a rollover of those 401k (or 403b) monies?
If you or your spouse switched jobs this year, were they out of work briefly or for an extended time?
3: For business owners (especially small businesses), did any of your employees become eligible for your retirement plan? Did your company grow?
Do you have the best type of retirement plan (SEP, 401k, SIMPLE) for your size business?
4: Did you do all of your charitable giving for the year?
These gifts must be made by December 31, 2017 and are likely tax-deductible.
5: Did you pick the best healthcare plan for you for 2018?
Did you consider a Health Savings Account (for those relatively healthy)? These vehicles are tax-deductible AND are not use-it-or-lose-it like FSA accounts.
Did you have a baby this year? How does that change your healthcare plan?
Did you review your choices and the costs with your financial adviser?
One extra question:
6: Did you inherit money this year from a person who passed away?
If so, did you set up the appropriate Inherited IRA? The IRS will penalize you if you do not meet certain requirements.
When is the last time you reviewed ALL these things and more with your adviser?
*Consult your tax adviser on ALL tax-related matters.