Year-End Financial Moves: Six Steps to Secure Your Future

Year-End Financial Moves: Six Steps to Secure Your Future

Financial planners reveal key strategies to take charge of your finances before the year ends

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the financial decisions we’ve made throughout the year and consider what steps we can take to secure our future. To guide us through this process, we reached out to financial planners who shared their expert advice on the top financial moves to make before the clock runs out on December 31. From updating beneficiaries to maximizing retirement savings, these steps cover a wide range of financial considerations that can have a significant impact on our financial well-being.

Update the beneficiaries on that 401(k) or life insurance policy

Your loved ones deserve to be protected in the event of any unforeseen circumstances. One crucial step is to review and update the beneficiaries on your investment accounts and life insurance policies. This ensures that your hard-earned assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Take advantage of the holiday season, when you are surrounded by loved ones, to remind yourself of the importance of safeguarding their future.

Review your estate plan and insurance coverage

In addition to updating beneficiaries, it’s essential to review your overall estate plan, insurance coverage, and legal documents. Consider whether you have adequate life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance, often overlooked, can help cover the costs of assisted living and nursing homes. If one spouse has insurance through work, it’s crucial to note that it does not cover the other spouse. To ensure your estate plan is up to date, schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney to create or update your will, health care directives, and other legal documents.

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Make charitable donations and give gifts

The holiday season is synonymous with giving, and it’s also an excellent time to make charitable donations. Remember that cash donations to recognized charities can be tax-deductible, potentially up to 60% of your income. Keep documentation for larger donations to substantiate your deductions. However, it’s important to note that charitable giving only works as a tax shelter if you itemize your deductions rather than claiming the standard deduction. Additionally, consider making financial gifts to loved ones, as individuals can gift up to $17,000 per recipient in 2023 without having to file a gift tax return.

Maximize your pretax retirement savings

December is the perfect time to ensure you’ve maximized your retirement planning contributions. Take advantage of tax-advantaged retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k) plans, which allow you to save a portion of your income before taxes are deducted. Be mindful of the contribution limits, which are $6,500 for IRAs and $22,500 for 401(k) plans in 2023, with higher limits for individuals aged 50 and over. As the limits are set to increase in 2024, update your payroll deductions and IRA contributions accordingly.

Over 73? Take the required minimum distribution on your retirement account

If you’re 73 or older, it’s essential to complete your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA by December 31. The IRS mandates that savers begin withdrawing from retirement plans once they reach a certain age to ensure they receive their share of taxes. Consult a financial adviser or an RMD table to determine the amount you need to withdraw. Failure to comply may result in a 25% excise tax on the unwithdrawn funds.

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Harvest tax losses

As the year comes to an end, consider implementing a tax strategy known as tax-loss harvesting. This technique involves selling investments that have decreased in value, offsetting gains made by selling other investments. By leveraging losses, you can reduce your taxable capital gains and even lower your taxable “ordinary income” by up to $3,000. Consult with a financial planner to determine if this strategy is suitable for your situation.


As we approach the end of another year, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to secure our financial future. By updating beneficiaries, reviewing insurance coverage and estate plans, making charitable donations, maximizing retirement savings, taking required minimum distributions, and considering tax-loss harvesting, we can make significant strides towards financial stability and peace of mind. Don’t let the year end without making these essential financial moves that can have a lasting impact on your financial well-being.