I feel like they threw Christmas in December because the sky is usually so drab. Although, December has some National Food days that make up for the gloominess: National Hot Chocolate Day; National Cookie Day; National Pumpkin Pie Day; National Brownie Day; National Eggnog Day; and National Fritters Day. On to some not so gloomy monthly to-do’s.
Check for unclaimed funds
Believe it or not, there may be money that belongs to you just floating out there in the world. There are plenty of ways to find it, but the best place to start is National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. These funds can be from investment accounts, rental deposits, bank accounts, etc. Each state’s rules differ, but most of the states will require you to fill out some forms to claim the funds. Once the form is filed, it may take a month or so before you receive the money, so don’t rely on this as your emergency savings.
Give to charity
The tax benefits aren’t necessarily as widely available as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should stop. Simply take time to be smart about it. If you are already taking required minimum distributions, consider using the transaction as a qualified charitable distribution. Simply send the money directly from your IRA account to the charity. Come tax time, the distribution amount to the charity can be excluded from income. If you are not 70.5 years of age, consider the tax implication of your charitable donation. With the standard deduction for most couples being $24,000, a large number of people will not be utilizing itemized deductions. If you are charitable, and want to be tax smart about your giving, plan your next couple years of giving. For instance, if you would have normally given $5,000 a year up through 2017 to charity, consider giving $15,000 in 2018, $0 in 2019 and $0 in 2020.
Review annual spending
Once you have factored in your holiday spending, your yearly figures are going to be darn close to complete. Although most people would probably be horrified to see how much they spend the last couple months of the year, it gives you an idea of where you are getting the most value for your money. If you find out you are spending a lot of money on your car and you don’t enjoy writing those checks, wouldn’t you feel better off knowing you are spending too much there and making an action plan to change that?
Take some time in the month of December so you can claim some funds and either give them to charity or utilize the money in one of the many National Food days available to you.