So it’s September, which means we’ll blink and it will pretty much be Christmas, which means the new year is pretty much here. The last part of the year always feels like a mad dash to the end, but here are a few things you can start thinking about now so you have a smooth year-end and can start the new year fresh:
Dec 31st is the absolute last day you can make charitable contributions and write them off for 2015. So donate your old clothes and home goods to Goodwill (and get a receipt) or make end of year donations to your favorite charities.
2015 IRA contributions
While you technically have until April 2016 to make contributions for 2015, I recommend you make your 2015 contributions in 2015 so you can close the books in 2015 and start fresh in 2016.
Flex Spending Account
Spend your FSA dollars!! There is a bit of a grace period on spending FSA dollars (you have until March 2016 to spend 2015’s FSA money), but it’s best to avoid confusion between 2015 and 2016 FSA funds and spend as much of your 2015 money as you can. Most of my clients who wear corrective lenses will get more contacts or a new pair of glasses. Bandaids and sunscreen are other popular purchases as well as any prescriptions you need to fill. Also, fun fact – condoms are FSA approved.
Book preventative care appointments if you haven’t already
Due to the Affordable Care Act (thanks Obama!), all preventative care doctor visits (this includes OB-GYN for women) are required to be included at no additional charge with all insurance policies. You get one “free” visit every year and this is use it or lose it. So if haven’t seen the doctor yet this year, book something soon!
Gather up all your receipts
Tax season is right around the corner as soon as 2016 rolls in. Do yourself a favor a start gathering your receipts for the year for things that you plan to write off. If you’re a freelancer, that includes everything and anything related to your business (take a listen to this show if you’re not sure what you can write off). Even non-freelancers can write off charitable donations (see above), unreimbursed employee expenses (any expenses over 2% of adjusted gross income can be written off), expenses you incurred for a side hustle (think airbnb, selling stuff on ebay, etc.), and educators get a $250 materials deduction.
Hit the reset button
Spend some time in November or December, or even the beginning of January, to step out of your day-to-day and reflect on this last year and make some commitments for what you want to accomplish in 2016. It may seem hard to starting thinking about next year’s goals when you’re still trying to get through this year, but think about it this way – you’ll be able to really prioritize how you’re going to finish this year if you know what direction you’re heading in.