As 2014 draws to a close, you may want to look back on the progress you’ve made this past year in various areas of your life — and that certainly includes progress toward your financial goals. At the same time, you may want to make some end-of-year moves that can close out 2014 on a positive note while paving the way for a productive 2015.
Here are a few such moves to consider:
• Boost your retirement plan contributions. This actually isn’t an “end-of-year” move because you have until April 15, 2015, to contribute to your Roth or Traditional IRA for the 2014 tax year. Nonetheless, the sooner you get extra dollars working for you in your IRA, the better. You can put in up to $5,500 to your IRA (or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older) for 2014. If you are self-employed, or run a small business, you also have until April 15 to contribute to a retirement account, such as a SEP IRA or a SIMPLE plan. In addition to helping you build resources for retirement, these types of plans can offer you some tax advantages — so if you haven’t established a retirement plan yet, consult with your financial and tax professionals
• Sell your “losers.” If you own investments that have lost value since you purchased them, you can sell them before 2014 ends and use the tax loss to offset some capital gains you may have earned in other investments. If you don’t have any capital gains, you can use up to $3,000 of your tax losses to offset other ordinary income. And for a loss greater than $3,000, you can “carry over” the excess and deduct it from your taxes in future years. If you still liked the investment that you sold at a loss, and you want to keep it in your portfolio, you could repurchase it, but you’ll have to wait 31 days to avoid violating the IRS’ “wash sale” rules. Keep in mind that these suggestions only apply to investments held outside your employer-sponsored retirement account; you can’t take a tax deduction on capital losses in a 401(k) or similar plan.
• Evaluate your 401(k) investment mix. You may be able to adjust the investment mix in your 401(k) as often as you like. So when evaluating your 401(k), make sure your holdings aren’t concentrated in just a few investments, and try to determine if your portfolio is still appropriate for your risk tolerance — not too aggressive or too conservative. Also, if your plan offers a “Roth” option, consider taking advantage of it — with a Roth, you won’t be able to deduct your 401(k) contributions from your taxes, but once you retire, you won’t be taxed on your withdrawals.
• Review your insurance coverage. If you’ve experienced any changes in your life in 2014 — new spouse, new child, divorce, new job, etc. — you may need to review your life insurance coverage to make sure that it’s still sufficient for your needs and that you have the correct beneficiaries in place.
By making these and other moves, you can say a fond farewell to 2014, knowing that you’ve done what you could to help bolster your financial position for 2015 and beyond.