For many, autumn is the best time of year. After a busy summer, and with the holidays looming, many of us just want to take a breather and relax a bit during the Fall. However, Fall comes with a host of opportunities for you to reconnect with and make important decisions about your finances:
Employee Benefits Open Season:
Open Season for Company Benefits typically commences in the Fall. Pay close attention for that email announcement so you don’t overlook taking advantage of these valuable benefits. Consider benefits like a flexible savings account (FSA), a health savings account (HSA), and a 401(k) (especially if there’s company matching), group life insurance and health insurance as well to determine what would best suit your family.
Most importantly, make certain you are enrolled in your company’s 401K to the extent you receive the employer match (the best free retirement money available).
Pay close attention to contribution elections as well. You’ll want to adjust your 401K contributions if you are considering “maxing out” as the contribution limits change annually. Also, if you are 50 years of age or more, you’ll want to make certain you adjust your contribution elections to allow for that extra “catch up”.
Finally, look for any existing or new any company-sponsored discounts (such as a weight-loss program or gym membership) to help reduce your monthly expenditures.
Higher Education Funding:
If you have kids in college, look ahead to the spring semester. Granted, you may think “They just went back to school,” but now’s the time to focus on financial education planning. Keep an eye out for federal financial aid (FAFSA) application deadlines (which usually open in early fall). Spring tuition for many colleges can be due as early as November and as late as January, so mark it on your calendar and plan accordingly—especially with holiday bills also on the horizon—to avoid getting docked with late fees.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period:
Medicare subscribers should take note that the 2022 Open Enrollment Period is from October 15-December 7 when you can join, switch, or drop a plan. Your coverage needs may have changed, and Open Enrollment provides you with the opportunity to change your coverage that begins on January 1 (if the plan gets your request by December 7).
An End-of-the-Year Financial Plan Check-Up:
Fall is an especially good time to meet with your financial advisor to review your plan. Of course, you should be reviewing your allocation strategy during this meeting but also, make certain you discuss any changes to your personal life (divorce and family deaths can affect your beneficiary elections), finances (career changes, major purchases or unanticipated expenditures have a big impact), risk tolerance, or goals. In a volatile market such as this year, it might make sense to incorporate some tax harvesting to help with your taxes. Also ask how pending tax, retirement or estate law changes will impact your planning.
So, while you might be tempted to sit on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie to watch the colors change this season, be sure you don’t miss these opportunities Take time to tackle this simple “to-do list” to capture some great benefits and make smart decisions about your finances. You’ll be glad you checked off these items before the New Year!
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