5 Money Things People Young And Old Should Do Before 2016

Forget binge-watching Netflix and take a few minutes to work on your financial health.

So it's the week between Christmas and New Year's and if you aren't shushing down a ski slope somewhere, you've made a date with Netflix to binge-watch everything you've missed. We get it. And as much as we'd like to leave you alone, there are still some money-related things you should probably do.


1. Fully fund your 401k.

End the year on the right foot and fully fund your 401k. Call the plan now; go on, we'll wait. By the way, our definition of fully funding isn't just making sure you get every dollar of your company's match, but also that you sock away every last nickel up to the limit. Your 401k plan is going to one day be your best friend and it will remember how you treated it early on. If you ignore it, it won't be there for you, and you'll regret handing over a fiver for a fancy cup of coffee all those many times instead of saving.

Everyone needs to think about retirement and what kind of money they will have to live on in what are no longer such golden years. No better time than the present to start.


2. Wait! You don't have a 401k plan??

You can still open an individual 401k, Roth or traditional IRA, until Dec. 31. The contribution deadline varies by type of entity. If your 401(k) or 403(b) is through your employer, your deadline for contributions is Dec. 31. Probably not wise to wait until the last minute though.


3. Give to charity.

Give generously for a few reasons. One is that it will make you feel good to help others. Another is that many companies provide a match for employees who make charitable donations. And a third reason is that charitable donations are deductions on your income tax. The charity wins and you win. The National Center for Charitable Statistics says 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014 were from individuals. This needs to get done by Dec. 31.


4. Check your Social Security statement online. 

While this might rank on the Fun Scale right after sticking hot pokers in your ears, it's still a smart thing to do. Yes, the behemoth agency has been known to mess things up. Since your earnings will determine how much Social Security you will be entitled to collect, it behooves you to examine your earnings statement once a year to make sure the amounts of your wages have been correctly reported. The site also has some other useful information on it, regardless of your age.


5. Accelerate deductions or delay income.

Make your mortgage payment early, pay property taxes, tuition, medical bills or other deductible expenses now to increase this year's deductions – unless you'd be better off financially deducting those items next year. If you are due a big end-of-year bonus, see if it can be paid out in 2016 if that helps you financially.


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