It's the end of what a lot of people are calling a giant shit storm of a year. While there's still a few days left for more shitty headlines to emerge, there are also a few days left for you to finish the year strong. Here are a few things to consider as we close out 2016:
Get a Tax Projection
Talk to your accountant about a year-end tax projection. There are some tax strategies you can implement between now and the end of the year that could have an impact on what your tax bill will be on April (or March) 15 of next year - more on that below.
But in my opinion, the biggest benefit to getting a tax projection is understanding what your tax picture will look like. If you end up owing a good amount of money, you have time to plan for how writing a large tax check will impact you. If you're getting money back, you can add that into your budget and take time consider how you'll use the funds.
Have an FSA Account? Use It or Lose It.
An FSA is also known as a flexible spending account or flexible spending arrangement. This is a special account that you put money into and use to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care costs.
The main reason people use an FSA account is because of the tax advantage. The money you put in are pre-tax dollars. In other words, you don't pay taxes on this money. This means you'll save an amount equal to the taxes you would have paid on the money you set aside.
If you have an FSA account, there is a time sensitivity you must be aware of: you need use the money you set aside before the end of the calendar year. So, as the end of the year is fast approaching, check the balance on your FSA. If you've still got cash in it, here is a list of products that are FSA eligible and can be purchased using your FSA Card.
Make A Charitable Donation
Every dollar you donate to a registered charity becomes a deduction on your taxes, just like a standard deduction. It's not a dollar-for-dollar savings. Instead, depending on your unique tax position, you can save roughly 25 - 40 cents for every dollar you donate.
I encourage everyone to give away money to a nonprofit or charity. The benefits go beyond just a tax deduction. If you can help a cause that is near and dear to you, you can also get a warm, fuzzy feeling. You'll also begin to realize and understand that how you use your economic resources have an impact on the world. How you use your money is a vote for what you believe in, what you don't stand for and what you do.
Reflect, Reframe and Recalibrate
The end of the year is a natural inflection point to reflect on the last year. Are you where you wanted to be? Did you reach your goals? Did you set any goals?
If you fell short, maybe you should revisit and reframe your intentions for the next year using the information from this year.
Take a moment to recalibrate. If you're in an industry that settles down during this time of year, take advantage of it. We're living in an always on, constantly-connected, productivity-obsessed era. Take advantage of the lull between waves; stress ain't no joke.