We’re almost there. The end of 2016. Most of us have about a week of productive time left before the avalanche of the holidays comes crashing down on us. While you still have a moment to catch your breath, here are 5 things you should do before the end of the year.
1) Spend Everything In Your FSA Account
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) are a fact of life for many of us. If you have money in an account that won’t roll over to 2017, figure out which items are eligible and spend it all now.
Most plans have specific rules on what you can buy with FSA money. Most plans also have loopholes. If you have a prescription, you can use FSA funds to buy over-the-counter remedies and stock up on Alka-Seltzer, Depends and Preparation H.
Your doctor can also write a letter stating you need that BowflexTreadclimber for an existing medical condition (like a spare tire or a double chin). Since this is how I bought my treadmill two years ago (really!), I figure you can get away with it too.
My plan even allows me to use FSA money for dance lessons (if I’m recovering from traumatic brain injury). No reason this can’t be fun, so spend that FSA money before the 31st!
2) Schedule Your Year-End Review
Not with your boss. With you. That boss. Sit down, pull out your 2016 calendar or planner, and go over your goals and results. Where did you come through and where did you come up short? Did you let procrastination or perfectionism hold you back? Or did you stay focused on your goals and fight through your obstacles to have a banner year?
Then be a good boss. Give credit where it’s due and be encouraging and positive. But don’t sell out. Hold yourself accountable for what you wanted to do this year and don’t accept any lame excuses. Weigh all sides and give yourself a grade for the year. Be tough but fair, and very generous with your praise. Then give yourself a raise.
3) Make Your Final Tax-Related Financial Moves
There’s still time for a few important financial moves. Lower your taxable income and save the world with as many last-minute donations as you can. If you’re short on cash, don’t worry. You can use a credit card, put off paying ’til February, and as long as the transaction is done by Dec. 31, it will count for 2016.
Have you fully funded your retirement accounts? If you haven’t maxed out your 401k and Roth IRA contributions, get off the couch and do it now.
If you don’t have an IRA and a Roth account, set them up now. You can get an account opened with a credit union or bank in under an hour. Scottrade says you can do it here online in 10 minutes.
You can’t afford to not pay yourself first. Make sure you do this before you waste any more dough on wrapping paper, mistletoe and fruitcake. Seriously, FRUITCAKE? Yeccch! What’s wrong with you?
4) Get In Touch With Everyone
This is the time to think about those friends, relatives and acquaintances you don’t see very often. Holiday cards are great, but if you’re not that organized, don’t sweat it. These folks will appreciate a phone call from you even more. Spend an evening calling everyone you haven’t spoken with for a while and do some catching up.
You’ll find out about their surgeries, their failed diets, and all the ways your life is better than theirs. Or not. Either way it’s a gift and all the connecting will fill you with positive energy.
So get out your smart phone, Palm Pilot or Rolodex and start dialing (yes, some of us still dial phones). Since you’ll be busy in January chasing down your resolutions, this is your downtime to reach out and touch someone. Appropriately.
5) Carve Out Some ME Time
Between the upcoming family obligations, shopping, cooking and traveling, you can really use some time to yourself. Manic Impressives tend to ignore this as we’re often focused on being the life of the party.
But some time to ourselves to reflect, exercise, listen to music, or just putter, can bring out some of our best ideas and creative energy. A block of time reserved just for you can pay big dividends, especially if you pick an unfinished project to finish, or some loose ends to tie up. Put it on the calendar and defend it. Don’t let anyone or anything encroach on your ME time.
Some quiet time can prevent the holiday burn out and overindulgence we’re typically known for. So be smart and make a commitment to take care of you.
Now get on these 5 things you should do before the end of the year. Because the next 16 days are going to fly by fast…