Laura J. Hanlon
CPA
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Laura J Hanlon CPA’s 4 Tips To Start Planning For Your Financial Goals In 2016

I woke up Monday morning, after the wonderful holiday weekend … and I had a realization: there are only THREE days left in 2015.

Obvious, yes … but it carries implications for your wallet, if you are wise with these days.

The VERY good news is that we’ve been able to clear out four appointment slots this week for fast-acting clients and friends who want to be pro-active, and ensure that their tax bill for 2015 is the lowest it can possibly be.

Simply click the button at the top of this page right away to email me to snag one, or call: (501) 548-6400 — and may I suggest you do it quickly? These slots are sure to go quickly. After that point, you’ll be put on a short waiting list.

But for those of my clients and friends who prefer to “do it yourself” (though with THIS tax code, I’m not sure that’s always wise), here are some quick ideas:
* Donate to your favorite charity (I’m sure you’re being flooded with EOY appeals)
* Pay your mortgage early so that you can take that deduction for this year
* Pay tuition now for 2016 classes that will start in the first quarter of next year. That way you’ll be able to use those costs to claim the (recently extended) American Opportunity Tax Credit. It could save you up to $2,500 on your tax bill, part of it refundable.
* Defer some income (if you’re able)
* Harvest investment losses, especially if you’re looking at a modified AGI higher than 200K

And, well, if we’re already into 2016 when you’re reading this, you can still open an IRA or contribute to an existing one by April 18th, 2016.

Regardless, the best thing you could do is to make sure that you have a competent, caring professional by your side for your 2015 taxes. And yes, I may be a little biased with that statement.

And further, let’s set some effective financial goals for you … perhaps even ones that we can review during our tax appointment?

Send me a snapshot now of where you’d like to be (simply click the button at the top of this page to email me), and then when we meet for our tax appointment, let’s see if you are where you want to be.

And here a few more thoughts about setting financial goals (since many will be telling you to do so next week, I thought I’d get a little ahead of the game)…

Laura J Hanlon CPA’s 4 Tips To Start Planning For Your Financial Goals In 2016
“Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” – Thomas J Watson

Before you launch into the yearly exercise so many of us do during the first two weeks of January, here are some ideas…

1) Set realistic goals. 
First, ask the right questions, and stay the course until you’ve found the answers. Goals that are shared are ten times more likely to be acted on. Don’t wait until you have everything set up, to seek out accountability.

2) Make those goals concrete, and then document them. 
Set your savings goals as a specific annual percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI). It’s a great idea to save at least 10% of your AGI in tax-free retirement accounts and another 5% toward retirement in taxable investments. If you are behind on your savings, you may want to save even more in order to catch up.

3) Craft the best strategy to implement your goals, including prioritizing the appropriate retirement vehicles. Start by investing just enough to get the entire match from a company’s 401(k) plan (if you have one), and then fund your Roth IRA accounts next. After these two, make certain you have enough non-retirement savings.

4) And this is a BIG deal — automate your plan. Automating putting money in an employer-defined contribution plan is easy. Automating a taxable savings plan is just as painless. Most banks or brokers offer an automatic money link between an investment account and a checking account. They should also offer a monthly automatic transfer between the two accounts.

Going into further detail would actually entail sitting down and creating a true, full financial plan — which is impossible to do for you in a blogpost like this (but very do-able, in person).

I do hope all this helps. To your family’s financial and emotional peace…

Warmly,

Laura J Hanlon CPA
(501) 548-6400

Laura J Hanlon CPA PA