We might be a few days behind, but the 12 days of Christmas are filled with joyous gift giving. Forget about buying five golden rings, four calling birds and three French hens. Put more money in your pocket by following these year-end suggestions:
1. If geese have been laying rotten eggs in your portfolio, sell losing stocks to offset winners. You can write off up to $3,000 in losses against income.
2. Make a Christmas spending budget – and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than buying 10 pipers piping when only two were budgeted, and paying the piper hefty interest charges the following year.
3. If your income sagged this year, but you expect to earn more next year, accelerate year-end income deposits from additional projects or freelance work to take advantage of a lower tax bracket this year. Alternatively, if you had a stellar year this year, defer income until next year to minimize your tax hit.
4. There’s no time like the present to take deductions and decrease your tax bill. Make your January mortgage payment before the end of the year and get the deduction this year. The same holds true for state, local and real estate taxes.
5. Give those 12 lords something to leap for and donate to your favorite charity. Put it on your credit card by Dec. 31, and you’ll get the deduction this year – even though you won’t pay for it until next.
6. If this year has been good to you, fund your 401(k) to the max.
7. If you have a flexible medical spending account, use it! Visit the doctor before year’s end and handle that pain that’s been pestering you.
8. Make a family member’s Christmas really special by giving a tax-free gift of up to $14,000.
9. Shop for business equipment and place it in service before Jan. 1. It qualifies for a deduction this year.
10. Let the maids milk the most out of your retirement account: Convert a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. You’ll pay taxes this year, but it will grow tax-free for the rest of your life.
11. Reduce holiday spending by giving friends the gift of time. Offer coupons for free babysitting or home-cooked meals.
12. Create financial goals for next year and give the nine drummers something to drum about. This will help you stay focused going into the new year. How much do you want to save? What big-budget items do you want to buy and how will you fund them?
These tips should help you finish out the year with more cash in your pocket.