1. Update beneficiaries and passwords
When there is a change in your family such as the loss of a family member, divorce, or birth of a child, you should consider adjusting your beneficiaries on each of your accounts. Beneficiaries can be updated for your retirement accounts, as well as life insurance and even some savings accounts. You may also want to consider updating the passwords to your financial accounts for added security.
2. Review your tax withholdings
If you’ve had a major change during the year it could be time to check your tax withholdings and update your Form W-4. A change in marital status or dependents could affect the amount of money taken out of each paycheck.
3. Max out your retirement accounts
Hitting the maximum contributions to your retirement accounts has both long-term and short-term effects. In the short-term, you may be able to lower your taxable income when you contribute to accounts like health savings accounts, if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, a 401(k), or a traditional IRA.
4. Take minimum required distribution
Depending on the account, if you are over a certain age, you must withdraw from your retirement account(s) to satisfy federal tax rules. Generally, you are required to start taking withdrawals from certain tax-deferred retirement accounts when you reach age 72.
5. Adjust your budget for inflation or other changes
The end of the year is a good time to assess your budget and make adjustments for any expenses that may have changed over time. For example, insurance rates for your car, grocery costs, streaming service subscriptions, and utilities tend to rise year over year, especially when inflation is high. If you don’t account for these you may not have the most accurate picture of where your money is going.
Not only are there things that absolutely must be done by year's-end, it’s also a great time to reevaluate your goals and get set up for the best financial success in the year to come.