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End the Year on a Financial High Note

The holiday season has arrived, and with the busy days ahead, 2018 will be here before you know it. Amidst all the action, we understand how easy it is to wait until the New Year to consider financial changes. But taking a few steps now could help you reduce your tax liabilities—and start January on a stronger financial foot. Consider completing the following tasks before 2017 is over:

Make Charitable Donations Giving to nonprofits you care about can be a powerful way to share joy during the holiday season while benefiting your financial life. Make donations before December 31, so you can apply them to your 2017 tax liabilities. And remember that you can give more than just cash. If you donate appreciated securities, buy tickets to charity events, or give goods to a qualified charity, your gift may be tax deductible. Use Your Healthcare Benefits If you have reached your healthcare plan's yearly deductible, now may be a good time to schedule any procedures or minor surgeries. If you have a flexible spending account (FSA), verify the deadline for using the funds in your account, and make sure you spend them in time. From new eyewear to dental procedures, consider what healthcare expenses you might have and use your benefits or FSA money before your annual year-end deadline. Revisit Your Retirement Accounts Before the year is over, you should try to take advantage of every retirement-saving opportunity that fits your financial goals. If you are still working, make sure you max out your employer’s match—which is essentially free money—by contributing enough money to meet their threshold. You can contribute to your IRA until the 2017 tax-filing deadline, but you likely need to make any 401(k) investments by December 31. Check Your Credit Report Closely monitoring your credit report is more important than ever. In today’s online world, identity theft can happen at any time. The recent data breach at Equifax, which compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans, serves as an alarming reminder. Every year, you should check reports from all 3 credit agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to look for any activity you do not recognize.

Reaching your goals begins with defining what you want to achieve. As 2017 comes to a close, ask yourself what financial milestone you would like to reach by the end of 2018. Perhaps you want to pay down debt, create retirement income, or fund college. Whatever your goal, start analyzing the daily choices you can make to help move you closer toward the finish line. With a bit of preparation and focus, you can strive to look back a year from now and feel proud of your new financial accomplishments. Building the financial future you desire depends on making thoughtful, strategic choices today. Through the rest of 2017, we encourage you to follow through with financial decisions that will move you closer to your goals. If you have any questions or want to discuss how to advance your financial goals in 2018, we are always here to talk.

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