“A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” “Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Oh, that Ben Franklin was just chockfull of good financial advice, but his “time is money” was the inspiration for this article, a compilation of time-sensitive tidbits to help you make the most of your money.
1. First-time homebuyer credit – Combined with low mortgage rates and home prices, it’s a great time to buy if you are looking and you qualify. Expires December 1, 2009.
2. If you might be changing to a less comprehensive health insurance plan in the near future (due to COBRA or COBRA subsidy running out, open enrollment, new rate class, etc.), consider scheduling known needed medical care now.
3. If you hold appreciated employer stock in your 401k, you might qualify for a little-known tax break: Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) (BEFORE rolling over or selling employer stock held in 401k).
4. Self-employed 401k – Unlike its cousin, the SEP-IRA, this plan must be established by December 31 (or fiscal year-end.) However, you have until your tax-filing deadline (plus extensions) to fund it.
5. Investments in taxable accounts? Income shift this year? – There’s still time to do income tax planning to reduce your 2009 tax bill.
6. Reminder to folks who usually take Required Minimum Distributions near year-end: The RMD is taking a holiday this year. If you don’t need the money from your qualified retirement plan to live on, you can skip the distribution — and delay the income tax due. 2009 only!
7. Computer equipment, Internet access, and related services have been added to the list of qualified college expenses for which you can use 529 plan funds. 2009 and 2010 only!
8. If you’re planning improvements to make your home more energy-efficient, Uncle Sam is here to help. 2009 and 2010 only! www.energystar.gov
9. With the income limit going away in 2010, anyone can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Whether it’s a good idea or not depends on your financial situation, but with the benefits Roths deliver, it’s certainly worth considering.
10. With 2001 federal estate tax laws set to expire soon, uncertainty is running high. Those with potentially taxable estates should keep an eye on this. Current laws sunset in 2010.
Photo by: Leo Reynolds