Whether we like it or not, the year is winding to a close. In a few short weeks, the holiday season will be in full swing, and the last thing on your mind will be resolutions you made at the beginning of the year.
While understandable, there are still a number of things that require our attention before we shift our focus to the holidays if we want to end the year well. Finish 2016 on a high note with these tips for fulfilling the resolutions you set nearly 12 months ago.
Take Advantage of Open Enrollment
You may not think workplace benefits play much of a role in financial resolutions. In many cases, they do as they help form a foundation we can rely on for the needs of our family. As such, it’s important to take open enrollment season seriously.
We often think of health insurance as the main component of open enrollment season, and with good reason. “Medical insurance will be the foundation of your benefits package. These plans can range from simple to robust, with big differences in price,” says Joanne Abate, Assistant Vice President of global health benefits for Unum.
Take time to analyze each plan to find the best fit for your needs, keeping in mind the end date of open enrollment for your employer.
What are you to do if the best plan for you has some coverage gaps? “Ask if there are additional products available that may help bridge some financial gaps left by your medical coverage,” Abate says. “There are voluntary financial protection benefits available that may provide benefits after a covered accident, a critical illness diagnosis or a hospital stay.
Don’t just stop at health insurance when it comes to open enrollment season. Your employer may offer other benefits like life insurance or dental coverage. ”People should really take time to understand what’s being offered,” Abate adds. “By doing so, you can select the coverage that best meets your needs and those of your family.”
Bolster Your Emergency Fund
If you were faced with an emergency expense of $400, could you afford it or would you be forced to use a credit card? A recent report from the Federal Reserve shows that nearly half of Americans wouldn’t be able to deal with such a situation. Additionally, 66 million households have nothing saved for an emergency.
Despite the scary statistics, starting an emergency fund isn’t as difficult as you may think. Most experts recommend having at least three months of living expenses saved for an emergency. Don’t let the overwhelming feeling hold you back from starting. Start small by looking for ways to save extra money and make a goal to save $500, then $1,000. Doing so may help you avoid further debt and handle most surprises.
Take Advantage of Tax Savings
Tax season is rushing toward us. It’s not a pleasant thought, but you still have time to take advantage of tax savings and keep more of your money in your pocket. If you use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer or independently, you have until December 31 to claim qualified expenses.
While you have until April 17, 2017 to make qualified contributions, it’s best to start thinking through what you’ll contribute now so as to take advantage of tax savings. There are many other tax savings, from retirement account contributions to charitable donations you can take advantage of if you’re mindful of making them as the year wraps up.
The year may be ending but by being proactive you can end it on a high note and help put yourself on solid ground for the New Year.