Six Money Actions to Consider Before 2014

Take prudent financial steps while 2013 is still here

As the New Year approaches, amidst the chaos of holiday shopping and partying, many people do take time to once again try to create a New Year resolution that they are going to abandon. But few realize they should do one thing that may be more urgent and potentially more beneficial for them: take a good, hard look at their financial situations and act on them accordingly before the ball drops at Time Square. This year-end checklist offers several suggestions to manage your finances, and may help you save on your taxes. Consider the following few actions, and make sure you complete them by December 31, 2013, if you haven’t done so already.

  1. Prepare for new tax-reporting changes. As a result of recent legislation passed by Congress, brokerage firms have begun tracking and reporting information about the cost of the securities you sell and will be providing it to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. Review legislation related to cost basis reporting that could affect your taxes. To learn what you should know before you trade in 2014, visit https://content.etrade.com/etrade/estation/pdf/irs_tax_reporting_changes.pdf.
  2. Convert to a Roth IRA. Compared to a Traditional IRA, It's generally a good idea for most investors to consider including a Roth IRA in their overall retirement planning. Roth IRAs have the potential to grow tax-free, which may help you save more over time. Plus, withdrawals aren't mandatory during the lifetime of the original owner, and Roth IRA assets can be passed to your heirs tax-free. See if converting to a Roth IRA is right for you, check with http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/roth-ira-conversion-calculator.
  3. Turn losses into potential tax savings. 2013 has been a banner year for equities, so would be your tax bill. But if you decide to sell losing assets before 2014, you may be able to use those capital losses to offset some taxable capital gains. There are limitations, however. For more details, please read http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/resource_center/expert_insight/personal_finance/tax/get_a_tax_break_by_harvesting_losses.html.
  4. Explore the tax advantages of a 529 account. We all have witnessed the rapid rise of college tuitions over the years. But if you have a child or grandchild, potential tax benefits await you when you open or contribute to a 529 college savings plan for him or her before 2014. Nearly every state has multiple plans for you. To help navigate through the maze, follow http://www.savingforcollege.com/intro_to_529s/what-is-a-529-plan.php.
  5. Rebalance your portfolio for the New Year. Certain sections in the stock market have experienced larger run-ups than others in 2013. These market swings cause investment allocations to be out of whack. To keep your portfolio in balance and good health, call your financial consultant or hop on to http://stocks.about.com/od/investingstrategies/a/Rebal021205.htm.
  6. Donate to a charitable organization. The holiday season is also a good time to think about charity. And if you make a charitable donation before December 31, you may be able to write it off on your 2013 taxes. You may donate directly to your favorite organization, or safely accomplish this through a donor-advised fund. For suggestions you may go to http://help.donorschoose.org/app/answers/detail/a_id/343/~/giving-through-a-donor-advised-fund.

While looking forward to a happy and prosperous 2014, tidying up your finances before 2013 ends may prove to be more prudent and potentially more beneficial than making any grand-looking New Year resolutions.

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