Wrap Up the Year With These Savvy Financial Strategies The holiday season can bring joy to our hearts, warmth to our homes — and a flurry of events to our calendars. Between all the social gatherings, decorating, gift shopping and travel plans, it's easy to get caught up in the festivities and overlook other priorities. However, it's crucial not to let your finances slip off the radar, as this time of year presents opportunities to safeguard your financial future — and avoid potential pitfalls. Here are eight important money moves to consider as you get ready to ring in the new year. Boost Your Good Deeds (and Your Deductions)If you haven’t already, this is an important time to think about maximizing your tax deductions. If you itemize, consider making charitable donations by Dec. 31. Not only will your generosity benefit those in need, but it can also reduce your taxable income. Additionally, take a look at your investment portfolio and consider selling underperforming stocks to offset capital gains and potentially lower your tax liability — this is called tax loss harvesting. Don’t Surrender Your Health Care SavingsFlexible spending accounts (FSAs) are a valuable tool for covering medical expenses, but they often come with a "use it or lose it" stipulation. This means that any funds left unused in your FSA at the end of the year could be forfeited. To avoid losing your hard-earned money, take some time to review your FSA balance, and spend those funds on eligible medical expenses before they expire. Remember Your Retirement SavingsAs the year draws to a close, one of the most important financial moves you can make is to maximize your contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as your 401(k) or IRA. Contributing the maximum allowed amount not only helps secure your financial future during your golden years, but also comes with valuable tax benefits. By contributing more to these accounts, you reduce your taxable income for the year, potentially lowering your overall tax bill. Merit Wealth Advisors can assist you with your end-of-year tax management and retirement planning needs. Don’t Miss RMD DeadlinesAs you reach the age when required minimum distributions (RMDs) come into play for your retirement accounts, prioritizing these withdrawals is paramount. Neglecting RMDs can lead to hefty penalties. Make sure you understand the intricacies of RMD regulations applicable to your retirement accounts and meet the deadlines to safeguard your nest egg from an easily avoidable financial setback. Create an Emergency FundBuilding an emergency fund is a smart money move that can provide added financial security and peace of mind. Set a goal to save at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in a readily accessible account, like a FDIC-insured, high-yield savings account. This fund can be a lifeline when an unexpected financial challenge arises, such as a medical emergency or job loss. Consider Debt ReductionYou may have added to your credit card balances to finish shopping for everyone on your holiday list. But credit cards can carry hefty interest rates, so consider allocating a portion of your year-end bonus or savings to reduce it. Lowering debt not only saves you money on interest but will also improve your overall financial health as you head into the new year. Boost Savings for Upcoming GoalsConsider allocating a portion of your year-end budget toward specific savings goals. Whether it's a vacation, a home renovation or starting a college fund for your children, setting aside funds now can help you make progress toward these aspirations. Review Your Strategy With a Merit Wealth AdvisorSchedule a complimentary meeting with us — end of year is an important time to review your investment portfolio, assess your financial goals and discuss any life changes that may impact your financial plan. We can provide guidance on optimizing your investments and help you set achievable goals for the coming year. Gift Yourself Greater Financial Peace of MindAlong with all your holiday to-dos, don’t forget to take some time to tend to your personal finances. After all, once the presents are unwrapped and the turkey is nothing but a delicious memory, long-term financial stability will remain a top priority for your future happiness. So as the year draws to a close, remember that a little financial foresight now can pave the way for a more secure tomorrow. All of us at Merit Wealth Advisors extend our warmest wishes for the holiday season — and a healthy and prosperous new year.