By Frank Legan
Most of us entered 2021 with hope and expectation that the pandemic would end, life would go back to normal, and we could move on from 2020. Instead, we learned that uncertainty doesn’t have an expiration date and each year brings its own set of challenges. Concerns about inflation, potential tax changes, and new COVID variants have many people wondering if next year will be any better. Those are valid concerns. But when it comes to your personal finances, 2022 does not have to follow in the same footsteps as the last two years. There are many ways to take back control of your finances and set yourself up for a successful future. Make sure all your bases are covered before the new year with these 5 steps.
1. Evaluate Your Tax Situation
One of the most important actions you should take heading into 2022 is to review your taxes and make any necessary changes in light of the potential passage of the Build Back Better Plan. This bill could have far-reaching implications for people in all tax brackets and it’s important to review how your financial plan may be impacted. Some of the potential changes to be aware of include:
- Increased business taxes
- New surtax on Americans making more than $10 million per year
- New cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions
- Common tax-advantaged retirement strategies, including Roth conversions and backdoor Roth IRAs, could be eliminated or strictly regulated
If you have significant estate assets, are planning to retire, or you are expecting substantial capital gains in the next few years, be sure to review your plan with a financial professional to ensure you are taking steps to mitigate any potential risk.
2. Review Your Asset Allocation & Invest With Impact
The end of the year is also a great time to review your asset allocation strategy. Given the dramatic rise of inflation over the last few months, it’s crucial that you evaluate your investments and make sure your portfolio is properly diversified. It should also be tailored to your specific risk tolerance level, ensuring that you are earning enough returns to keep up with inflation, but you are not overexposing yourself to risk.
3. Consider Charitable Donations
Charitable donations are another option that can be reviewed as the year-end approaches. The holidays are a great time to give money and assets to your favorite non-profits, churches, and organizations.
Charitable donations can be used as part of your overall tax strategy, or as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Both options provide many potential benefits including supporting causes you care about, reducing your taxable income, and reducing your taxable estate.
4. Use Up Your Employee Benefits
While every employee benefit plan has its own rules and regulations, many of them expire or reset at the end of the year. You worked hard for these perks, so be sure to use them before it’s too late!
Medical and Dental Benefits
Now’s the time to take care of all your healthcare needs before your deductible resets. Dental plans in particular often have a maximum coverage amount. If you haven’t used the full amount and anticipate any treatments, make it a priority to set an appointment before December 31st.
Flexible Spending Account
Like your health insurance benefits, you’ll want to use up as much of your FSA (flexible spending account) dollars as possible by the end of the year since you are only allowed to carry over $500 each year.
Sick and Vacation Time
Depending on your company, your sick or vacation time might expire at the end of the year. Check with your HR department to learn about any expiration dates. If it does expire, fit in a last-minute staycation or take some time off to work on projects you’ve been putting off. If you need to make any trips to the doctor, schedule those appointments now to make use of paid-time-off benefits before you lose them.
5. Revisit Your Plans and Policies
Lastly, take another look at your estate plan and insurance coverage. If you took the time and energy to create an estate plan, check it periodically to ensure all the documents are up to date and no major details have changed.
Your insurance needs may also change as the year goes by, so periodically review your coverages and designated beneficiaries to bring them up to date to reflect your current financial situation. For example, if you paid off debt, you may not need as much life insurance coverage since your family’s liabilities have decreased. You might also want to evaluate your need for other types of insurance, such as long-term care or disability insurance.
Partner With a Professional
At Cedar Brook Group, we can help you take back control of your finances after a rocky couple of years. Together, we can achieve your financial New Year’s resolutions in 2022! Reach out to us today by calling our office at 440-683-9213, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or scheduling a complimentary introductory call online!
Frank Legan is Partner, Financial Advisor, and member of the Investment Committee at Cedar Brook Group, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Northeast Ohio. Frank spends his days designing and implementing personalized financial planning strategies for corporate executives, closely held business owners, artists, families, and retirees. He specializes in lifetime income strategies, investment advice, and estate planning services. He also works with businesses to develop strategic and succession planning strategies. Frank has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton, as well as a Master of Public Administration degree focused on municipal management from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Cedar Brook Group, Frank was a financial advisor in the private client group at Merrill Lynch and with NatCity/PNC Investments. Frank is active in his community, serving on various councils, boards, and committees. When he’s not working, you can find Frank spending time with his wife, Laura, their daughter, Reese, and their beloved collie, Charlie. Frank and his family are volunteers at St. Francis of Assisi church in Gates Mills. Frank serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland. To learn more about Frank, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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