After the much advertised delay in sending out refunds, it’s finally time. In this week’s episode, the focus returns to that once a year so-called pay day that everyone gets all worked up about. “The Tax Refund” Like a windfall, a breathe of fresh financial air. Sometimes it’s spent in our minds 19 times before we even get it, just the idea of getting it. The tax refund is maybe one or two steps away from becoming a holiday, just so folks could have even more time to go spend some of that tax refund money. The car dealers, creditors, retailers and anyone else that typically have slow January sales are all anxiously waiting as they know people are getting the refund checks. Maybe there should at least be some slick moniker like “SupeR Black Friday” or maybe “GAAP Friday”. Either way, there’s a lot of opportunity at this time of year for both making good moves or setting the stage for trouble during the rest of the tax year.
Annual “Open Enrollment” selections, elections and options are typically around October and November of every year. Most employees carryover the same options year after year, sometimes this is a big mistake, they’re leaving money on the table and that is not how the game is played. Much like you would review every line of tax deductions for expenses and credits at tax time, the same should be done to ensure annual elections are “optimized”. Everyone wants to get the most for their money, with that in mind making a decision for the entire year can be tricky. It’s necessary to consider everything from frequency doctor visits, dental visits, eye care, prescriptions, relocating or even if you don’t go to the doctor much more than preventative care and checkups here and there.
Consider everything from possible savings by reducing coverage, adding life insurance amounts, and of course the possible tax advantages of an FSA or HSA to help offset those wonderful co-pays and deductibles. I always wondered who came up with the “co-pay”, like really, a $10. co-pay?!?! Why? It’s always been a pain to make sure you have $10. or $15. in my pocket just for the co-pay!
2016 is in full effect, and although there’s still some of last year lingering around for tallying taxes, earnings, dividends, losses, 2015 is still pretty much in the bag. Once you get the 1099’s out of the way you’ll have the hard figures on what you made saved and maybe lost. 2016 is the focus now, I usually give myself a month or even two to really iron out and commit to new year goals and so called resolutions. It takes about a couple of months just to be sure if the new goals are worthy, not too lofty and not too easy, no matter what they’re usually never too easy.
This year a new twist, targeting a savings or investment account and trying to MAX it OUT, through contributions of course. Selecting a retirement account, education savings account or something similar and making the MAX contributions for the calendar year. Some folks this will come fairly easy, for the majority it’ll be a set it and forget it challenge and a few others will maybe need to put this challenge in perspective for their budget. Regardless of budget, economic status and earnings it is fairly universally agreed everyone should be saving for a rainy day, cloudy at least. That being considered, there are many avenues to save that pretty much applies to everyone in some way or another. There are 401k’s, 403b’s, 457’s, Coverdell ESA’s, MMA’s, Government Savings Bonds, ROSA’s (Regular Old Savings Accounts), IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, Roth 401k’s, 529 Plans and the list goes on. Thing is, most of these accounts have some sort of maximum amount you can contribute annually, primarily because the majority have some money saving features whether it’s through deferred taxes on contributions or tax free earnings on contributions. Whatever your flavor or purpose, you’re probably enrolled or have one of these set up someplace, at work or elsewhere. When it comes to waiving of taxes on earnings or contributions, the government is involved to authorize that sort of thing, and they also put caps and limits, check out Retirement Plan limits and details for the most up to date and accurate information for plan limits and specific details. Many folks never really hit the caps or limits set or even know they exist. In today’s show, to kick off 2016 we’re focusing on identifying the limits and choosing one of these accounts to max out for 2016. Regardless of our budget, we’re going to figure a way to MAX OUT for 2016.