Year-End Planning

The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. All signs that year-end is fast approaching. Now is the perfect time to get your finances in order and make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals. Whether you are early in your career or getting ready for life in retirement, there are things you may want to consider doing before December 31st. Here are some things for you to discuss with your financial advisor to help you close out 2023 and kick off the new year.

  1. Review all the benefits that are offered by your employer:
    1. This is the time of year that open enrollment occurs with many companies. Take the time to review your benefits and make sure that your selected benefits meet your needs.
    2. Review all benefits including – stock options, health, life and disability insurance coverages, health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA).
      1. Quick Tips:
        1. Make sure you spend all your FSA balance by year-end. In most cases you cannot roll those balances over to future years.
        2. Can you accelerate or postpone medical treatments? This will help you maximize deductibles with your health insurance.
    3. Are you maxing out your retirement contributions? In 2023, you can contribute $22,500 to a 401k plus an additional $7,500 if you are age 50 or older. Are you contributing enough to take advantage of match contributions from your employer?
    4. Are your beneficiary designations up to date?

  2. Perform a year-end tax review:
    1. Did you experience any significant life events this year like - marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death, or retirement? Any of these events could affect your tax withholding.
    2. Based on your projected income for the next year, would it make sense to defer or accelerate bonuses, property/business sales or charitable gifts from a tax perspective?
    3. Do your investments have unrealized losses for 2023? Tax loss harvesting could help you reduce your overall tax liability.
    4. Consider a Roth IRA conversion. If you are in a lower tax bracket, converting Traditional IRA dollars to a Roth IRA could increase your tax-free investments in retirement. Proceed cautiously with this strategy; any amount that you convert from traditional dollars to Roth dollars will be considered taxable income in the year you do the conversion. It’s always prudent to consult a tax advisor when considering this type of transaction.
      1. Quick Tip:
        1. If you earn too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, you may want to consider a back-door Roth IRA. This strategy does have some nuances to it also, so make sure you consult your tax advisor before you proceed with a back-door Roth contribution.
    5. Have you contributed to a 529 plan this year? Don’t forget, there are tax advantages in Wisconsin for contributing to these education savings plans.

  3. Rebalance your investment portfolio:
    1. Your investment portfolio is always changing with market movements. In 2022 and 2023, we have seen a lot of volatility which may have left your investment portfolios out of balance from a stock and bond standpoint. A rebalance can bring your allocations back in line with your desired risk tolerance.

  4. Review your credit and debt:
    1. Have you looked at your credit report lately? There are companies that allow you to get a free credit report annually. This quick check is a great way to spot errors or identity theft.
    2. Looking at and reviewing each of your credit cards can save you money. Review the interest rates on each card and pay off high interest credit cards first. Many credit cards now offer benefits like cash back, gift cards, travel, etc. Make sure you know how these rewards work and how you can access them.
    3. Applying for new credit cards could save you money with sign-up bonuses and zero percent interest periods.
    4. Get in the habit of always paying off credit card balances at the end of the month to avoid interest payments.

  5. Examine your Social Security benefits:
    1. Visit the Social Security website ( and review your Social Security Statement. Every year your employer reports your annual income to the Social Security Administration. Occasionally you may find errors in the data that is in this report. An annual review can allow you to find errors quickly and get them resolved so at retirement your Social Security benefits are accurate.

  6. Assess your charitable giving goals:
    1. Charitable giving can be a great way to bring you tax savings as well as accomplish your philanthropic desires. Have you maximized your charitable deductions?
    2. If you are 70 ½, you can give to a charitable organization through a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from a Traditional IRA. By doing a QCD you will not pay taxes on that distribution. Before you consider a QCD, consult your tax advisor.
      1. Quick Tip:
        1. Bunching your charitable giving into a single year could increase your itemized deduction for that year.
        2. Consider opening a Donor Advised Funds (DAF). These charitable tools allow you to bunch your giving into a single year and then spread out the donations into future years.
        3. Donate appreciated assets rather than cash.

  7. Review your insurance policies:
    1. Insurance comes in all types of policies. Life, health, auto and disability are just a few of the common policies available to cover “risks” in our lives. Do the “risks” that you are trying to insure against still exist today? A quick review of your policies can help you determine this.
    2. If your family has grown, you bought a house or started a business, you will want to review policies and make sure your coverage is still sufficient.

  8. Think about your estate plan:
    1. Estate planning is not only for the elderly and wealthy. Almost everyone should talk to an attorney and have them draft documents that lay out their final wishes as it relates to your assets as well as your health care.
      1. Quick Tip – Some basic documents:
        1. Will
        2. Health Care Power of Attorney
        3. Financial Power of Attorney

Take some time now before year-end to review this list and see what items apply to your personal situation. By taking steps now to accomplish the applicable items you will hopefully be setting yourself up for a prosperous new year.

Not FDIC insured, not guaranteed by the bank, not a deposit, may go down in value, not insured by any federal government agency