Memorial Day is in the books and summer is officially on!
School will be wrapping up in the next few weeks and we will shortly be consumed with excitement over summer vacations, beach trips and camp reunions. Before the summer gets away, here are five simple tips for summer financial fitness.
1) Double-check your 2016 tax withholding.
Getting a Federal tax refund may feel good, but it’s really more like giving the government an interest free loan. It’s equally bad to owe the government at the end of the year as you may have to pay a penalty on top of the tax that you owe.
Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, you want to get your tax bill just right. You can use this free tool from the IRS to see where you stand and then with the six months remaining in the year, you have time to adjust your W-4 or make estimated tax payments to ensure you end the year on target.
2) Double check your employer match and 401(k) maximization.
Just like getting your taxes planned out perfectly, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re not on a path to miss out on employer match dollars in your 401(k). This can happen if you contribute the individual maximum of $18,000 before the end of the year. An easy check is to simply divide $18,000 by the number of pay periods you’ll receive during the year and make sure you aren’t contributing over that amount. Your individual situation can get complicated with employer specific match rules and bonus payments, so charting it out in Excel may be required, but like your taxes, if you plan it out now you’ll have several months to course correct if needed.
3) Do one outsourced household task yourself this summer.
Summer is all about relaxing and spending quality time with family and friends. But “time is precious” and “time is money”, so many of us will work with vendors and service providers so that we can more thoroughly enjoy our time and money. Fair enough, but if you pick just one task, like mowing your own lawn, and do it yourself for the 12 weeks of summer, you’ll be able to goose your retirement or college savings more than you might realize.
4) Save on flights with Hipmunk and try a VRBO
Here are a couple of websites to help with your summer or winter travel planning that you may not have tried yet. For flight planning, I like Hipmunk. The feature that I like best is that Hipmunk assigns every flight an “agony” rating and then you can sort the flights from least awful to most awful. I also really like their graphical view of layovers.
Instead of hotel rooms, I like VRBO/Homeaway. With this site, you book directly with property owners across the country. They typically provide many more photos than hotel properties and you can get the exact amenities and situation you are looking for, often at a much lower price.
5) If you are staying local. Use Parking Panda and Gas Buddy to save on parking and gas.
Finally, if your summer plans are more modest, try Parking Panda and Gas Buddy. Parking is always a pain for those big city trips, but Parking Panda lets you make a discounted parking reservation in advance in most major cities across the U.S. and Gas Buddy will help you keep tabs on the lowest gas prices in the area.
If you have any questions about these products, services or strategies or would like a second opinion on the products, services or investment strategies you are using, please use the link to schedule a free consultation.
- Investing and investment management involves risk, including the loss of your initial investment or any investment gains.
- Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
- This generic information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation for any individual to take a specific action.
- Please invest prudently and seek professional help from a financial advisor, investment manager, accountant, lawyer or other professional on matters that you are unsure of or that are unique to your personal circumstances.
- Financial Advisor and Investment Management Services provided by J. Bradford Investment Management, Nashua NH.