Action Plan for the Week


The Calendar may read October, but the reality is the end of the year crunch has already begun. Use this time to make the most of your money. Tackle a few chores this week and you will be patting yourself on the back while others are pulling their hair out at the end of the year. Here are just 4 things I want you to look into this week..

1) Use your “use it or lose it benefits.” Many people have access to pre-tax savings programs for healthcare and/or dependent care. I love these plans except for one annoying stipulation, you have to use all the money you set aside by the end of the calendar year or you lose it. Someday the rules will change that allow us to roll over this money to the next year – but until that happens – use it!
If you are like me, you like to have money in these accounts just in case there is an emergency. But then December comes and you realize you have hundreds of dollars to spend – now! Break that cycle and give it some thought now in October. You will be able to apply that money to something that will improve your quality of life.

2) Make your holiday cash list and budget. This can be difficult to do earlier in the year, but by now you have a good idea of whom you will be rewarding this year. We generally do a great job thinking about holiday presents for family and friends, but we forget about those cash gifts we give to service people and charities. Who is on your list this year and how much do you want to give them? Making that list now and setting the cash aside will make life much easier and leave your wallet a lot healthier at the end of the year.

3) Go green quickly! The Tax credits for energy saving improvements expire at the end of the year. If the windows need replaced or the water heater or fridge is ancient, think about getting new energy efficient replacements now and take advantage of the federal tax credits for making those improvements. Below are a few useful links that will help you make a smart plan. Mind the details and make sure you have the proper documentation of the products and installation to take full advantage of the program.
http://www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index
4) Take a quick look at last year’s tax filings. Taking 30 minutes to review what you did tax-wise last year may trigger a reminder for moves you need to take this year. Try it- it will make a difference in your decisions through the end of the year. It may seem boring, but this is a really effective exercise. Try it and let me know how you do.

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    About Mary Mary Caraccioli, MLA, MBA is the Money Confidante. An Emmy™ Award winning financial journalist, she has worked at CNBC, FOX, Comcast and ABC's LiveWell TV where she has created numerous award winning programs. Mary also helped to create the Lou Dobbs syndicated radio report. She was an early adaptor of digital media and creator of well respected money websites.

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