Keep tabs on college funding plans. With college costs reaching astronomical heights, you need to utilize every available college funding resource. Financial aid and scholarships, as well as the Lifetime Learning Credit and Hope Scholarship Credit may help alleviate the college cost crunch. However, aid and tax credits alone generally will not fund your child’s college education. Make sure you’re saving and investing enough to help meet your goals. At a minimum, take advantage of the tax savings offered through an Education IRA.
Assess your income tax picture. You may be able to reduce your tax burden – sometimes significantly – by making strategic tax decisions before the end of the year. Your tax professional can alert you to any tax planning strategies that might make sense for your situation.
Review critical documents. Because life’s circumstances continually change, you should review your legal documents and beneficiary designations every year. This will entail carefully combing through any wills, trusts, retirement plan documents and life insurance policies to make sure they’re up-to-date. Seek the assistance of a qualified adviser if any modifications are necessary.
Set goals for next year and beyond. A year-end review is an excellent time to start thinking about next year and setting some long-term goals. Take a close look at your day-to-day finances to see if you can reduce expenses and save more. Then make an honest assessment of which goals are most important to you and then commit to meeting them.
Lisa M. Shelton is a financial advisor at the Lowery Shelton Group at Morgan Stanley in Vancouver. She can be reached at 360.992.7994.
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. This material was not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters. Article by McGraw Hill and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. The author(s) are not employees of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“MSSB”). The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of MSSB. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of MSSB and MSSB makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of MSSB. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by MSSB with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engaged VBJ to feature this article.
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