2019 Beginning of Year Financial Planning Checklist
The below guidelines provide additional details on the checklist items.
- Review 2018 Spending & Savings: Pull year-end banking and credit card statements to compareactual expenses vs. projected expenses. Review savings in 2018 and check to see whether or notgoals were met.
- Discuss 2019 Expense & Cash Flow Goals: Are there expense adjustments that need to bemade? What are your goals for the upcoming year? Are there any big expenses on the horizon
- Review Asset Withdrawal Strategy and Adjust if Needed: Once you determine how muchmoney you will need to pull in 2019 your Altair team will determine which assets to draw upon first.
- Communicate Income Adjustments and New Stock Grants for Upcoming Year: Inform yourengagement team about any adjustments to compensation (salary/bonus) and new stock grants inthe coming year.
- Increase Retirement Plan Contributions: In 2019, you can elect to defer up to $19,000 of yourcompensation to a 401(k). Those aged 50-plus can defer an extra $6,000 for a total of $25,000.Additionally, some plans allow you to make after tax contributions, up to the IRS limit of $56,000.
- Increase Health Saving Account /Flexible Spending Account Contributions: In 2019, you cancontribute up to $2,700 to a health care FSA and $5,000 to a dependent care FSA. Additionally, theIRS increased HSA contribution limits to $7,000 for a family and $3,500 for single individuals.
- Fund 2018 Non-Deductible IRAs & Convert to Roth: Although your income may be too high tomake a direct contribution to a Roth IRA, you can fund a Roth IRA by making a non-deductible IRAcontribution and immediately converting it to a Roth IRA. In 2019, individuals can contribute $6,000to an IRA. Those aged 50-plus can defer an extra $1,000 for a total of $7,000.
- Discuss Gifting Plan for Kids: If you plan on gifting money to your children this year consider howyou plan to make the gifts (529 contributions, cash gifts, etc.) In 2019, you can gift $15,000 perperson ($30,000 per couple, if the decision is made to split gifts) to any individual. As a reminder ifyou pay college or medical bills directly to the institution, your payment is not considered a gift andthere is no limitation on your contributions.
- Fund 2018 Roth IRAs for Children: If your children have earned income, you can use part of theirannual gifting exclusion to fund a Roth IRA for each working child. This strategy helps transferwealth to the next generation in a tax-efficient manner.
- Fund Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Accounts: Make gifts to your Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs) early in the year to ensure assets are in place when insurance premiums are due.
- Review Estate Plan & Fiduciary/Beneficiary Designations: The beginning of the year is a good time to review your overall estate plan & fiduciary designations to make sure they are still in line with your wishes. Additionally, you should verify/update your beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
- Gather and Organize Documents Necessary for Tax Filing: Begin collecting W-2s, 1099s, investment income information (interest & dividend income, proceeds from the sale of stocks and bonds, income from foreign investments), business income and Social Security benefits to prepare your 2019 federal and state tax returns.
- Adjust Tax Withholding: Under the new tax law, many people saw their tax brackets change in 2018 as well as changes to other common tax credits. These changes could affect how many allowances you should claim and how much tax should be withheld from your paycheck. Take some time to review your W-4 and update your withholding amount if necessary.
- Review Group Benefit Elections & Understand Updates for the Coming Year: Review your employee benefit elections (group health, dental, life, disability, FSA, HSA) and ensure you understand any updates to coverage.
- Review Health Insurance Plan & Understand Updates for the Coming Year: Familiarize yourself with updates to your medical coverage including new co-insurance and deductible limits.
- Evaluate Current Debt Structure & Current Interest Rates: With interest rates on the move it’s a good time to analyze your outstanding debt and determine whether or not it makes sense to restructure or begin paying down loans.
The material shown is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as accounting, legal, or tax advice. Altair Advisers LLC is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission; registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. While efforts are made to ensure information contained herein is accurate, Altair Advisers cannot guarantee the accuracy of all such information presented.