Year-End Financial Planning Tips

December is upon us, which means I basically have your attention for about two more weeks max.

After that, let’s face it, we’re all checking out for the rest of 2018.

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So while I have you, and as the year comes to an end, it's a perfect time to review some year-end financial planning tips.

For such an occasion there's no better duo than Michael Goodman and Brenna McLoughlin from Wealthstream Advisors. And in the interest of full disclosure, not only is Michael a dear friend of mine, he's also my advisor.

We discussed a variety of financial planning topics to ponder before you shut down for the holidays, including:

  • Selling assets in your portfolio now versus waiting until next year: Losses offset gains that you have taken previously in the year; if you have more losses than gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 of losses against ordinary income.

  • Take Required Minimum Distributions: Generally, once you turn 70 1/2, you must begin withdrawing a specific amount of money from your retirement assets (there are some exceptions). The penalty for not taking your RMD is steep at 50 percent on the shortfall!

  • Consider a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD): One way to sidestep the taxation on your RMD is to make a Qualified Charitable Distribution, which allows you to gift directly from your IRA to a charity without having to include the distribution in your taxable income.

  • Making last minute 529 plan contributions: Money saved in these programs grows tax-free and withdrawals used to pay for college sidestep taxes, too. You can invest up to $15,000 in 2018 without incurring a federal gift tax and many states offer state tax deductions for the contributions.

  • Considering how tax changes could affect you: With all the changes to the tax code, there’s plenty of items to keep in mind before filing your 2018 returns. 

So before you completely shut it down and wrap up your 2018 finances, you’ll want to listen to this episode to make sure there’s nothing you’re forgetting.

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#261 Tax Prep Boot Camp with Ed Slott


Ed Slott CPA is a nationally recognized IRA expert, television personality and best-selling author who has dedicated his life to educating Americans on saving for retirement and the intricacies of IRAs.  He was named “The Best Source for IRA Advice” by The Wall Street Journal and is the author of numerous best-selling books. His web site www.IRAHelp.com. He started our conversation with an overview of what has changed for this year's tax filing season (not too much) and then explained why well-prepared taxpayers should not be afraid of an audit. (NOTE: Ed says that the key to the entire  tax preparation process is to keep flawless records and documentation throughout the year!)

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Ed also focused on the need for retirees to shift gears in retirement. While there may be some lucrative opportunities, there are also challenges/minefields, like those thorny stealth taxes, which can trip us up.

The old favorites include the whopping 50 percent penalty for not taking your required minimum distribution (RMD) and not making estimated tax payments, but last year's change about IRA rollovers is also causing a new headache among some retirees.

As much as everyone complains about paying taxes, Ed says that tax rates are still the lowest they have been in years. That means that now could be a good time to move funds from tax-deferred vehicles, like 401 (k)s and IRAs into tax free Roth IRAs. Ed also noted that the very best retirement strategy is to work as long as you can. Extra income can prevent you from dipping into your nest egg; with earned income, you can continue to make Roth and spousal Roth IRA contributions (though once you turn 70 1/2, you can NOT make traditional IRA contributions); you may be able to delay your RMDs from your company-sponsored retirement plan; and most importantly, working longer will help you combat the reality of longevity!

Thanks to everyone who participated this week, especially Mark, the Best Producer in the World and the worst LinkedIn User. Here's how to contact us:

  • Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE