Don’t wait for next year to roll around to improve your finances. There are money moves you can make now that can help you save more and spend less.
- Boost Your Retirement Contributions
If you have a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) or Traditional IRA reduce your taxable income and add to your savings by increasing your contributions. Consider upping the amount in your automatic payroll deductions for the remaining months. You can always adjust your contributions if you need to. If you’re eligible, you can open an IRA and you’ll have until April 15, 2019 to fund it. If you get a year-end raise, increase your retirement contribution to match the increase in salary because research shows that if you don’t, you’ll simply adjust your spending habits to that new amount.1
- Keep Holiday Spending in Check
According to a 2018 National Retail Federation survey, Americans estimated they would spend approximately $1,007.24 on the holidays, including gifts, entertainment, decorations and other miscellaneous costs. What will you spend this year? If you don’t know, create a holiday budget and shopping list now to avoid impulse buys and overspending. Use cash and your debit card whenever you can. If you use a credit card, use our credit card payoff calculator to determine how quickly you can pay off the balance and what interest you’ll accrue if you don’t. Be careful using store retail cards, as the interest rates are much higher and the holiday discounts won’t be worth it if you can’t pay off balances right away.
- Make Your Mortgage Payment Early
If you make your January mortgage payment before Dec. 31, you’ll be able to reduce your tax bill.1
- Donate to Charity
It’s a great time to do a clean sweep and donate clothing, household goods, computer equipment and even cars. Charity organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army provide guidelines to place a current market value on your donations. You’ll need receipts for contributions that add up to more than $250. The same goes for cash and checks. If you have a particular charity you’d like to donate to on a regular basis, you can setup automatic deductions from your bank account. To learn more, read the IRS’ Charitable Contribution Deductions.
- Use up Your FSA Dollars
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) through your employer, you know it’s is a great way to put money aside to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care costs, without having to pay taxes on it. Most plans require that you use up your funds by the end of the year, so check your balance and if you have money left over, you can use it for things like insurance copays, eye exams or prescription glasses.
- Refresh Your Budget
If it’s been awhile since you’ve looked at your spending and saving habits, set aside some time to review your goals, income, savings and debt. Whether you use a spreadsheet, budgeting app or website, writing down how much money you have coming in and going out each month and tracking it for a few months will help you avoid overspending. Ideally, you want to save 10% of your income so you have enough funds to pay for the unexpected. For more financial fitness tips, visit BALANCE, our financial literacy partner. BALANCE can assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a sensible budget managing spending and debt. The Balance team can also assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a budget designed to help you manage your spending and debt.
Need more advice about planning for your future?
Our financial advisors provide complimentary consultations to SchoolsFirst FCU Members, and can help find creative financial strategies tailored to your specific needs. Visit schoolsfirstfcu.org/advisors to learn more.
1For specific tax advice, please consult a qualified tax professional.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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