As 2020 is hopefully off to a great start for everyone, lets talk about some things that you need to do for your personal finances. I am going to call this your 2020 Personal Finance To-Do list.
Make any changes to W-2 forms if you have not already. If you had a kid, got married, or did anything to that would change your filing status do it now so you get the most out of your paychecks. Don’t give the government a free loan, getting back a small tax return means you didn’t over pay or didn’t under pay your taxes through out the year and kept more money in your pocket. Head over to the IRS website and see what your withholding should be.
Create a 2020 spending budget. Start by writing down your recurring fixed expenses, such as your mortgage or rent payment, health insurance premiums, utilities and so forth. Your 2019 outlays can provide a guide. You might even spot some spending from last year that you can trim back this year.
While creating a budget use last years spends to take a stab at what you think you will spend this year on variable expenses. Chances are you will spend about the same amount plus or minus a few dollars This will also be a great time to make sure your emergency fund is fully funded. I usually recommend 3-6 months of expenses for the house hold. So if you have children of any age I would personally do 2x that amount, because with children you have expect the unexpected.
Review your credit report. The three big credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — provide everyone with one free credit report annually; it’s the law. Request one at AnnualCreditReport.com. When you get it, look for possible errors. Even if your name is misspelled or your Social Security number is incorrect, that can hurt your ability to get a credit card or loan.
If any mistakes are found, contact the credit bureau or bureaus where you discovered the error and explain the error in writing. Next, write the company that provided the information to the credit bureau. A credit bureau normally has 30 days after receiving a dispute to investigate and verify information with the company that furnished it. Then, it must report back to you within five days of finishing the inquiry.
Pay your taxes. Personal federal income tax returns and corporate tax returns are due (before midnight) on Wed. April 15, 2020. That’s also when a first estimated tax payment for 2020 is due, as well as most state tax returns. The subsequent estimated tax dates for 2020 are: Mon., June 15, Tue. Sept. 15 and Fri. January 15, 2021.
Fund your retirement. If you haven’t already put money into your 2019 retirement account, you have until April 15.
You can contribute up to $19,000 to a 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan. And you can contribute up to $6,000 to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If you’re aged 50 or older and qualify, you can contribute an additional $6,000 to an employer-sponsored plan and $1,000 to an IRA.
If you’re self-employed, you can contribute up to $56,000 ($62,000 if you’re 50 or older) to a solo 401(k) plan by April 15, or the deadline date for your extension. Your contributions can’t exceed your self-employment income for the year. Another option for self-employed people is a SEP IRA. These contributions are limited to 20% of self-employment income, up to $56,000. For a SEP-IRA, you must deposit contributions for a year by April 15, or the date of your extension.
This is also a good time to start thinking about how to boost your retirement contributions in 2020. The maximum individuals can contribute to 401(k)s for 2020 is $19,500; $26,000 for those 50 or older. If you’re self-employed, in 2020, you can contribute up to $57,000 ($63,500 if you’re 50 or older) to a solo 401(k) plan and $57,000 for a SEP IRA.
Do a mid-year financial checkup. Set-up an appointment with your financial planner if you work with one or take a look yourself to review your asset allocation to see how your investments are currently balanced — what percentage are in stocks, bonds and cash — and if they’re in line with your goals and risk profile. Double-check, too, that your investments are spread across a wide range of asset classes, from large companies and dividend-paying stocks to emerging growth firms to global stocks and bond fund indexes.
Take a look at your financial goals- Take time twice a year to review financial goals that you have set yourself and see where you are at with them. If you are not making any progress towards them, take a step back and see what is causing the issue and what you can do going forward. It is very important that you have some sort of financial plan for yourself and your spouse.
Take advantage of charitable giving. You can give away up to $15,000 to as many people as you want without filing a federal gift tax return. And you may be able to claim charitable contributions for 2019 if you’ll have write-offs exceeding the standard deduction ($12,400 for singles; $24,800 for married couples filing jointly).
Consider ramping up reimbursed medical expenses. In 2020, you can deduct reimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. There’s still time to schedule appointments and procedures that will increase the amount of your deductible expenses.
Max out your Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have one. Health savings accounts let you put money aside for qualifying health expenses, tax-free, if you have a high deductible health plan. Distributions for qualified health expenses are tax-free, too.
For 2020, the maximum HSA contribution for individuals is $3,550 and it’s $7,100 for family coverage; people 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000.
Review your tax-free health care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) if you have one. Unlike an HSA, most FSAs are “use it or lose it.” In other words, you could give up using anything left in your FSA account at year-end. So tap the funds to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, including deductibles and co-payments, unreimbursed dental and vision expenses, eyeglasses or even hearing aids.
Doublecheck your withholding. This could be a good time to tweak the amount of income tax withheld from your paycheck. If any life changing events happened such as marriage, birth of a child, ect.. make sure you change your filing status and W-2 now so that your next paycheck in Jan will be fully maximized and no money is left on the table.
Hopefully you find this list useful and a good reminder of things you have to do through out the year. It not necessary that these things are done at these times. Goals for example, depending on what they are can be achieved and or changed at any given time. I usually do it half way through the year just to reflect where I am at and where I would like to end up for the year.