A short list of monthly activities and financial housekeeping to help you stay on track
January is a great time to prepare for the year ahead. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ Medicare Advantage open enrollment begins
▪ College students should begin applying for Free Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
▪ If you are self-employed or have other fourth-quarter income that requires you to pay quarterly estimated taxes, the payment must be postmarked by January 15, or the next business day if January 15 is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday
▪ If you have a health savings account or a flexible spending account through your employer, forecast your expected expenses for the current year and look at your actual expenses from the previous year. Because these are “use it or lose it” plans, try not to contribute more than what you expect to be reimbursed
▪ College students should begin searching for spring scholarships. You can find more help on paying for college here
▪ Review your annual budget and get your finances organized
▪ You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Reports can be obtained from annualcreditreport.com.
▪ Don’t forget to check the Federation of Tax Administrators site for the current list of sales tax holidays and make a note of them on your calendar so you may potentially plan purchases around these tax-free breaks.
February is a great time to update your financial planning. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ Begin preliminary review of taxes to see if additional HSA, IRA, or SEP-IRA deposits can offset taxes
▪ The priority deadlines for most college scholarship and financial aid programs fall in January to mid-February. To receive more consideration for aid, college-bound students should plan to submit the CSS/Financial Aid Profile application (https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org) by these dates.
▪ Begin shopping around for the best deal on lawn services before the growing season begins
▪ Update your financial planning app or begin using one. Check out our financial planning app
▪ Now is a good time to rebalance your asset allocation for any automatic contributions you make
▪ Remember to pull your student’s 1098-T Tuition statement to help you with qualified education expenses on your tax return
Use March to prepare for taxes and watch out for fast approaching deadlines. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ March is credit education month and a great time to pull a free credit report
▪ The filing deadline for S corporation and partnership returns is March 16, or the next business day if March 16 is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday unless you file for a six-month extension
▪ Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage open enrollment period ends March 31st
▪ Reminder: April 1st is fast approaching and is the deadline for taking the required minimum distribution (RMD) if you turned 70 ½ during the prior year
There’s a lot to get done in April when it comes to preparing your taxes. Follow this guideline to stay on track with several key planning dates.
▪ If you turned 72 during the year, you have until April 1 of the following year to take that year’s RMD. (Note that you will also have to take your RMD for the current year by December 31.)
▪ E-file or postmark your individual federal and state tax returns by midnight or request an extension to push your deadline back to October 15
▪ Now is the deadline to fund your traditional or Roth retirement account to count as a prior year contribution. If you have a SEP IRA, however, and you get a filing extension to October 15, you can wait until then to put prior-year dollars into those accounts.
▪ File your federal gift tax return or extension by April 15th for gifts made between January 1st – December 31st in the prior year.
▪ File federal estate and trust income return or extension
▪ File your partnership income tax return or extension
▪ If self-employed, the first quarter estimated tax payment Form 1040-ES is due by April 15th
▪ Now is a great time to search for forgotten money. Check out the free Unclaimed Money page to begin your search.
May is a great month to think about your income and social security. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ May is social security education month. Those nearing retirement should assess their net worth, financial plan, and estimate their income and expenses for retirement. Login to review online statements for errors and catch up on any shortfalls
▪ Nonprofit informational returns are due, but you can request two 90-day extensions. Those deadlines are August 15th and November 15th
▪ With summer nearing, look over electric bills to see when your contract expires. In Texas, Power to Choose provides one-stop rate comparisons, gives you access to energy fact sheets and terms of service, and lets you find plans offering renewable energy
▪ Now is a good time to adjust your income tax withholding. The goal is to get as close to $0 as possible, so you don’t owe the IRS money or give the government an interest-free loan
June is National Insurance month and is a great time to think about your needs. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ If you are self-employed or have other second-quarter income that requires you to pay quarterly estimated taxes, be sure your payment is postmarked by June 15
▪ June 21st is End Alzheimer’s Day. This is a great time to consider long-term care coverage. Check out this article on repositioning assets to pay for long-term care
▪ June 28th is National Insurance Awareness Day. Performing an insurance review can help with planning from protection to legacy based upon each stage of life. Also, shop insurance rates for home and auto. Look for multi-policy, employee, student, and safety and security discounts
The lazy days of July are a great time to get your estate in order. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ July is a great month for estate planning. The lazy days of summer and lack of school functions free up time to take care of reviewing wills, trusts, powers of attorney and beneficiaries. Remember to also visit and review what’s in safety deposit boxes
▪ Summer is a great time to pull out old documents and have them shredded. Many financial advisors offer a free shredding service for clients
▪ Summer is a good time to get eldercare documents in order. Especially when vacations might mean visiting with those who need powers of attorney and other documents in place for the next stage of their life
By end of summer, August should find you catching up on financial housekeeping. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ Starting in August and running through December are important months to search college scholarships for the fall semester of the following school year. Here are some more ideas on paying for college.
▪ Don’t forget to look for any back-to-school sales tax holidays you may be able to take advantage of in your state. Check the Federation of Tax Administrators site for the current list of sales tax holidays.
▪ The nonprofit informational 90-day extension is due, but you can request one more 90-day extension. The deadline for that is November 15th
▪ Don’t forget to review the IRS’s 529 Plan qualified education expenses for a reminder on what funds may be used for
▪ Fall is a great time to shop around for better interest rates on your checking and savings accounts
▪ Spend some time seeking better credit card offers if you pay your cards off every month. Consider taking advantage of cashback, airmiles and rewards so you’re prepared for any holiday travel
Back to school in September means it’s time to consider college savings. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ September is national college savings month. Now is a great time to begin planning 529 and other college savings contributions for the following school year. Read more about 529 Plans
▪ Third quarter estimated tax payment is due if you are self-employed or have other third-quarter income that requires you to pay quarterly estimated taxes. Be sure your payment is postmarked by September 15th
▪ Extended corporate, trust, estate, and partnership income tax returns are due if you filed for an extension. Your return needs to be completed and postmarked by September 15.
▪ September 30th is the last day to determine beneficiaries after an IRA owner’s death. Here’s additional info
on selecting the right beneficiary
▪ Take some time before the holiday rush begins to review services and contracts for better pricing. Remember to check mobile phones, internet, home phone, television, and home security contract end dates before making any changes
There is a lot to do in October before the rush of holiday activities. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ The CSS/Financial Aid Profile application is available beginning October 1 for early decision and early action applicants who are applying for nonfederal financial aid (most deadlines are early to mid-February). Search the CSS Profile website (https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org) to see which institutions require you to submit the Profile form for financial aid consideration, and research their priority filing dates.
▪ For students entering college in September, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available beginning October 1. Families should complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible after October 1.
▪ The SAR should be available online or in hard copy two to four weeks after you submit the FAFSA. If there are any errors on the SAR, make corrections and mail it back immediately.
▪ Today is the deadline to establish a SIMPLE IRA. A notice to employees is due 60 days prior to the October 1 establishment date.
▪ Open enrollment season begins in October for certain employee benefit plans. Take time to consider how much to contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA)
▪ Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Part D annual open enrollment begins October 15th and runs through December 7th
▪ If you applied for an extension, your return needs to be completed and postmarked by October 15.
▪ If you filed for an extension, your return needs to be completed and postmarked by October 15.
▪ If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA during the year and paid tax on the conversion, October 15th is the deadline for recharacterizing (undoing) the conversion
The month of November should signal the start of your end of year planning. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ ACA open enrollment begins November 1st
▪ The final 90-day extension for nonprofit informational returns is due by November 15th
▪ This is a great time to do some end of year planning, especially before the flurry of holiday activities and stress set in. Evaluate the budget and make any necessary adjustments. Our financial planning app can help
▪ November is a good time to look over your flexible spending account (FSA) to ensure you will use available funds before year-end
▪ In November, the student loan repayment grace period for May graduates comes to an end. Recent graduates still looking for employment may want to investigate their options for deferring payments
▪ Beat the last-minute rush on your charitable donations. Consider maximizing by donating appreciated assets like stocks and bonds because you can deduct the full value without paying capital gains tax
December is a great month to prepare for the coming new year. Follow this guideline to stay on track with your monthly financial tasks.
▪ December is a great time to schedule an increase for your 401(k), IRA, 529 Plan or education savings accounts to meet the annual contribution limit increase. Even if you don’t max out contributions, it’s a good idea to increase them every year
▪ Consider prepaying property taxes and/or an extra mortgage payment before December 31st if you need an extra tax deduction to help offset taxes. Your financial advisor can help put you in touch with a tax advisor
▪ December 31st is the last day to take RMDs, and to make itemized deductions and gifts count for the current year taxes. Reassess whether changes are required for any new life-events. Here are some common misconceptions about RMDs
▪ Business owners should consider making any purchases and paying vendors in the current year to claim against expenses before December 31st
▪ Remember to submit this year’s reimbursements of qualified education expenses for your student’s 529 Plan by December 31st
▪ A trade to sell a long position must be executed by the close of the last trading date of the current year. A short position closing trade must be executed so that the trade settles by the final trading day of the current year