Year End

Getting Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019

Fall is a good time to assess where you stand and where you could be

You need not wait for 2019 to plan improvements to your finances. You can begin now. The

last few months of 2018 give you a prime time to examine critical areas of your budget, your

credit, and your investments.

You could work on your emergency fund (or your rainy day fund). To clarify, an emergency

fund is the money you store in reserve for unforeseen financial disruptions; a rainy day fund is

money saved for costs you anticipate will occur. A strong emergency fund contains the

equivalent of a few months of salary, maybe even more; a rainy day fund could contain as little

as a few hundred dollars.

Optionally, you could hold this money in a high-yield savings account. A little searching may

lead to a variety of choices; here in September, it is not hard to find accounts offering 1.5% or

more annual interest, as opposed to the common 0.1% or less. Remember that a high-yield

savings account is intended as a place to park money; if you make regular deposits and

withdrawals to and from it and treat it like a checking account, you may incur fees that

diminish the savings progress you make.1

Review your credit score. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report at each

of the three nationwide credit reporting firms (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) every 12

months. Now is as good a time as any to request these reports; visit annualcreditreport.com or

call 1-877-322-8228 to order them. At the very least, you will learn your credit score. You may

also detect errors and mistakes that might be harming your credit rating.2

Think about the way you are saving for major financial goals. Has your financial situation

improved in 2018, to the extent that you could contribute a little more money to an IRA or a

workplace retirement plan now or next year? If you are not contributing enough at work to

receive a matching contribution from your employer, maybe now you can.

Also, consider the way your invested assets are held. What are your current and future

allocations? Some people have heavy concentrations of equities in their workplace retirement

plan, IRA, or brokerage account due to Wall Street’s long bull market. If this is true for you,

there may be some pain when the next bear market begins. Check in on your portfolio while

things are still bullish.

Can you spend less in 2019? That might be a key to saving more and putting more money into

your rainy day or emergency funds. If your pay has increased, your discretionary spending

does not necessarily have to increase with it. See if you can find room in your budget to

possibly cut an expense and redirect the money into savings or investments.

You may also want to set some near-term financial goals for yourself. Whether you want

to accomplish in 2019 what you did not quite do in 2018, or further the positive financial trends

underway in your life, now is the time to look forward and plan.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This

information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee

of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is

advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and

may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment

or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are un-managed and are not illustrative of any particular

investment.

«RepresentativeDisclosure»

Citations.

1 - thesimpledollar.com/best-high-interest-savings-accounts/ [8/31/18]

2 - ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report [9/6/18]

End-of-the-Year Money Moves

Here are some things you might want to do before saying goodbye to 2018

What has changed for you in 2018? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you

retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life,

then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2019 begins. Even if your

2018 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and

see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

Do you practice tax-loss harvesting? That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities

worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. If you fall

into one of the upper tax brackets, you might want to consider this move, which directly lowers

your taxable income. It should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.1

In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in

excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital

losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. When you

live in a high-tax state, this is one way to defer tax.1

Do you want to itemize deductions? You may just want to take the standard deduction for

2018, which has ballooned to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers because of

the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a

good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. While many miscellaneous

deductions have disappeared, some key deductions are still around: the state and local tax

(SALT) deduction, now capped at $10,000; the mortgage interest deduction; the deduction for

charitable contributions, which now has a higher limit of 60% of adjusted gross income; and

the medical expense deduction.2,3

Could you ramp up 401(k) or 403(b) contributions? Contribution to these retirement plans

lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to

qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. Note that

contributions to Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s are made with after-tax rather than pre-tax

dollars, so contributions to those accounts are not deductible and will not lower your taxable

income for the year. They will, however, help to strengthen your retirement savings.4

Are you thinking of gifting? How about donating to a qualified charity or non-profit

organization before 2018 ends? In most cases, these gifts are partly tax deductible. You must

itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.5

If you donate publicly traded shares you have owned for at least a year, you can take a

charitable deduction for their fair market value and forgo the capital gains tax hit that would

result from their sale. If you pour some money into a 529 college savings plan on behalf of a

child in 2018, you may be able to claim a full or partial state income tax deduction (depending

on the state).2,6

Of course, you can also reduce the value of your taxable estate with a gift or two. The federal

gift tax exclusion is $15,000 for 2018. So, as an individual, you can gift up to $15,000 to as

many people as you wish this year. A married couple can gift up to $30,000 in 2018 to as many

people as they desire.7

While we’re on the topic of estate planning, why not take a moment to review the beneficiary

designations for your IRA, your life insurance policy, and workplace retirement plan? If you

haven’t reviewed them for a decade or more (which is all too common), double-check to see

that these assets will go where you want them to go, should you pass away. Lastly, look at

your will to see that it remains valid and up-to-date.

Should you convert all or part of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA? You will be withdrawing

money from that traditional IRA someday, and those withdrawals will equal taxable income.

Withdrawals from a Roth IRA you own are not taxed during your lifetime, assuming you follow

the rules. Translation: tax savings tomorrow. Before you go Roth, you do need to make sure you

have the money to pay taxes on the conversion amount. A Roth IRA conversion can no longer

be recharacterized (reversed).8

Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit? The AOTC allows

individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with

MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college

expenses. Phase-outs kick in above those MAGI levels.9

See that you have withheld the right amount. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act lowered federal

income tax rates and altered withholding tables. If you discover that you have withheld too

little on your W-4 form so far in 2018, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year

ends. The Government Accountability Office projects that 21% of taxpayers are withholding

less than they should in 2018. Even an end-of-year adjustment has the potential to save you

some tax.10 Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March.

Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial

situation.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This

information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee

of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is

advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and

may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell

any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any

particular investment.

«RepresentativeDisclosure»

Citations.

1 - nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/just-how-valuable-is-daily-tax-loss-harvesting/ [4/16/18]

2 - marketwatch.com/story/how-to-game-the-new-standard-deduction-and-3-other-ways-to-cut-your-2018-tax-bill-2018-10-15 [10/15/18]

3 - hrblock.com/tax-center/irs/tax-reform/3-changes-itemized-deductions-tax-reform-bill/ [10/10/18]

4 - investopedia.com/articles/retirement/06/addroths.asp [2/2/18]

5 - investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/041315/tips-charitable-contributions-limits-and-taxes.asp [10/1/18]

6 - savingforcollege.com/article/how-much-is-your-state-s-529-plan-tax-deduction-really-worth [9/27/18]

7 - fool.com/retirement/2018/06/28/5-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-estate-tax.aspx [6/28/18]

8 - marketwatch.com/story/how-the-new-tax-law-creates-a-perfect-storm-for-roth-ira-conversions-2018-03-26 [9/15/18]

9 - fool.com/investing/2018/03/17/your-2018-guide-to-college-tuition-tax-breaks.aspx [3/17/18]

10 - money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/taxes/articles/2018-10-16/should-you-adjust-your-income-tax-withholding [10/16/18]