« Back to more Point of View stories

Year-end Financial Planning Tips

The New Year is right around the corner, but you still have time to take action so you can start 2019 off on the best foot financially.

It’s hard to believe, but the year is winding down. Before you know it, the holidays will be over and everyone may be making – and hopefully sticking to – New Year’s resolutions.

“In between wrapping presents and attending holiday parties, there are financial strategies to employ to help you start off next year on the best foot financially,” said James C. Kelly, wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management®.

Kelly outlined year-end planning strategies that everyone can benefit from – regardless of age or financial status.

1. Review your estate plan and beneficiary designations.

Regardless of your age or how much you have in your bank account, it’s important to create and regularly review your estate plan with your legal advisors. Your estate plan dictates what will happen to your possessions, finances and dependents after you pass away.

Things may have changed over the past year, and you should ensure your plan reflects your current lifestyle and family situation.

“When reviewing your estate plan, you want to review who is included and whether the plan reflects recent life changes,” Kelly explained. “If you have children, it’s important to designate who will care for them if you aren’t around.”

Your estate plan may also include things like standby guardianship and power holders (for example, financial and medical power of attorney). You should review these considerations with your legal advisors.

2. Check your tax withholding.

Even though you won’t file your taxes until next year, if you wait until then to make adjustments, it’ll be too late to impact your 2018 taxes. Be sure to direct any tax questions to a tax advisor.

“One of the country’s most comprehensive tax reform packages went into effect at the beginning of this year,” Kelly said. “You want to make sure that you’re aware of your tax obligations and current withholdings before Dec. 31, so you don’t have any surprises come filing season.”

The IRS offers an online withholding calculator.

woman at a desk reviewing financial statements

3. Tap into unused benefits.

Many employers’ health insurance plans include benefits such as flex spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs).

If your employer offers an FSA, you may need to spend that money before the end of the year – or lose it forever. Qualifying households can allocate up to $5,000 per year for dependent-care services and $2,650 per year for medical expenses.

If you have an HSA, you have until year-end to max out your contributions: $6,900 per year for those under 55 per household, and $7,900 per year for Americans 55 and older per household.

4. Check your credit report.

Everyone gets one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider checking one report every four months to help you catch any fraud sooner rather than later.

“Take advantage of your free credit report so you’re aware of your financial status and also to make sure nothing unusual or fraudulent occurred over the past 12 months,” Kelly said. “Once you get your free credit report, I recommend saving it and keeping a hard copy. You never know when you’re going to need it.”

If you notice any suspicious activity, contact the reporting bureau.

5. Max out your 401(k) plan

Hopefully you’ve been contributing enough to your 401(k) plan to at least receive a company match if your employer offers one, but are you taking full advantage of the tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicle?

Individuals under age 50 can max out their 401(k) plan by contributing $18,500 per year, and those age 50 and older can put an extra $6,000 into their 401(k) plan per year.

“A 401(k) is a great tool to help save for retirement,” Kelly noted. “If you’re able to contribute more – or even better, max out your contributions – you have until the end of the year to do so.”

Certainly the end of the year can be a busy time, but your future self will thank you for taking advantage of these year-end planning strategies!


See how PNC Wealth Management can create customized solutions to help you meet your financial goals year-round »

James C. Kelly
James C. Kelly is a wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management.

Kelly also advised that if you’re 70 ½ or older you should make sure to take your required minimum distribution from your IRA before the end of the year.

PNC Point of View
Real People. Real Perspective. Real Insights.
Read more POV Stories »

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.

This site may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”) uses the marketing names PNC Wealth Management® and Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth® to provide investment, wealth management, and fiduciary services and the marketing name PNC Center for Financial InsightSM to provide wealth planning education to individual clients through its subsidiary, PNC Bank, National Association (“PNC Bank”), which is a Member FDIC, and to provide specific fiduciary and agency services through its subsidiary, PNC Delaware Trust Company or PNC Ohio Trust Company. PNC also uses the marketing names PNC Institutional Asset Management®, PNC Retirement Solutions®, Vested Interest®, and PNC Institutional Advisory Solutions® for the various discretionary and non-discretionary institutional investment activities conducted through PNC Bank and through PNC’s subsidiary PNC Capital Advisors, LLC, a registered investment adviser (“PNC Capital Advisors”). Standalone custody, escrow, and directed trustee services; FDIC-insured banking products and services; and lending of funds are also provided through PNC Bank. Securities products, brokerage services, and managed account advisory services are offered by PNC Investments LLC, a registered broker-dealer and a registered investment adviser and member of FINRA and SIPC. Insurance products may be provided through PNC Insurance Services, LLC, a licensed insurance agency affiliate of PNC, or through licensed insurance agencies that are not affiliated with PNC; in either case a licensed insurance affiliate may receive compensation if you choose to purchase insurance through these programs. A decision to purchase insurance will not affect the cost or availability of other products or services from PNC or its affiliates. PNC does not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice unless, with respect to tax, PNC Bank has entered into a written tax services agreement. PNC does not provide services in any jurisdiction in which it is not authorized to conduct business. PNC Bank is not registered as a municipal advisor under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”). Investment management and related products and services provided to a “municipal entity” or “obligated person” regarding “proceeds of municipal securities” (as such terms are defined in the Act) will be provided by PNC Capital Advisors.

“PNC Wealth Management,” “Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth,” “Vested Interest,” “PNC Institutional Asset Management,” “PNC Retirement Solutions,” and “PNC Institutional Advisory Solutions” are registered service marks and “PNC Center for Financial Insight” is a service mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.

Investments: Not FDIC Insured. No Bank Guarantee. May Lose Value.
Insurance: Not FDIC Insured. No Bank or Federal Government Guarantee. Not a Deposit. May Lose Value.