End of the Year Money Decisions to Boost Your Bank Account

With just four more weeks of 2016, there is still some time left to make a few end of the year money decisions to help you save money and/or grow your money. I know that your mind may firmly be on holiday decorations, office holiday parties, and who you will kiss when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. However, if we’re going to do this money thing right, we should at least think about making a few of these last-minute money decisions.

With 2016 almost over, it's a great time to take advantage of some end of the year money decisions to boost your bank account.

Retirement for the Win

You may be sitting pretty with your contribution to your 401(k) at work, but the end of the year is a great time to boost your savings and enjoy a larger deduction for 2016. Ask your HR department if you can up your contribution even just a few percentage points before the end of the year. You can always drop your contribution back down in 2017. You can contribute up to $18,000 if you’re under 55 in 2016.

Don’t have a 401(k) – no problem! You actually have until you file your taxes next year to open an IRA and save up to $5,500 if you’re under 55. Why would you do this? Well, it helps you supercharge your retirement savings and potentially enjoy a write-off at the same time.

Is it deductible: (graph from IRS website)


Remember, there are no deductions for a ROTH.

Go Ahead & Pay Now

One of the best end of the year secrets (well, it’s not really a secret, but many people don’t talk about it), is the advice to pre-pay your property taxes and/or your mortgage payment in 2016. Let’s say you have a mortgage, you can go ahead and make your January payment in December, and take a deduction this year for that payment. Same goes for your property taxes. Make sure you look up your own rules in the county where you live.

Why would you do this? Well, let’s say you’ve made extra money this year or a large bonus. Rather than paying more in taxes you can look for ways to balance out your extra earnings.

If you run your own biz, the same magic works for you. You can pre-pay a deductible car payment, or buy new software or get new business cards or a website. There are so many ways you can pay now, and save later.

You’ll Take the Loss

There’s a concept in the investment world called tax-loss harvesting. It may sound exotic like you’re going out to some field to find tax losses, but it’s actually a simple concept that can save you money. Let’s say you have two stocks. One lost you $2,000 this year and one had a gain of $3,000. With tax-loss harvesting, you can smooth out your gain by taking up to a $3,000 tax loss on your tax return. In this case, with a $2,000 loss and $3,000 gain, you would only pay tax on $1,000 of the gain. See how that works?

Now, even if you have a loss, you might not want to sell a stock or a mutual fund. Maybe you believe t he stock will rebound. In that case, tax-loss harvesting means nothing to you now, but it’s important to understand the concept.

Get Charitable

The end of the year is a great time to make extra donations to your favorite charity that is doing amazing things in your city, or even abroad. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • Must be a 501(c)3 charity to get the deduction ( you can check your charity here)
  • You must get a receipt, even if you give them cash. You can claim a deduction of $250 or more only if you have that little magical receipt
  • You can donate stock that has appreciated if you don’t want to pay tax on it
  • You can’t deduct your time for volunteering, but your gas, parking fees, toll fees, equipment, etc.
  • Contributions can be deducted only in the year they were made – so watch the clock
  • Even if you don’t get a deduction…shouldn’t we all be more charitable

Pay Off Game Plan

If you’ve got debt that is remaining it’s a great time to get a move on a debt game plan. You can save tons on interest fees over the length of the loan by constructing a solid payoff plan. There’s a right way to do this – and it doesn’t include throwing a ton of money on your credit cards at random. Use a credit card payoff calculator to find out your ideal payoff strategy.

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Score a Deal On Black Friday

Black Friday is just around the corner and it's hard to know if you're actually getting a deal or not. Check out this podcast for the ultimate guide to Black Friday shopping with Courtney from NerdWallet.

Black Friday Deals

It’s no surprise that Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It’s like winning the jackpot at Vegas for retailers both on and offline. I’m a true skeptic thought. I mean, are we really getting a deal, or are we paying a “reduced price” for something that isn’t actually reduced. It’s why Black Friday shopping has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

NerdWallet to the Rescue

I’m a huge fan of NerdWallet and all of their money resources, so I decided it would be a good idea to ask their retail shopping expert, Courtney, about my Black Friday skepticism. In fact, NerdWallet has an entire section of their website devoted to Black Friday ad leaks and deals that you should know about BEFORE you go shopping.  Courtney shared a ton of great tips for the best shopping experience.

Before you bundle all up (if you live somewhere cold, and not in Los Angeles like me) and head out at some ungodly hour like 2am for a store open, make sure you spend some time to do your research. Knowing what to buy and where will save you a ton of cash that you can put towards better things like paying off debt, or that slush fund for a New Year’s eve getaway.

If you score a good deal, let me know about it!

The Presidential Debacle

With all the uncertainty about the next President, it's easy to get fearful about what will happen to your investments and your 401(k) as a millennials. On this podcast, Jane Barratt and Andrew Thomas help demystify whether you should be worried.

Election and Your Money

Given millennials are the most important voting block of this election, it makes sense that you would want to know how is this going to affect your wallet. More importantly, are you going to wake up on Wednesday morning and have a lot less money in your investment accounts? It’s one thing to not have the candidate that you want elected….it’s another thing to lose money.

First things first, I want to encourage you not to panic. Panic is literally what sends the stock market plummeting, and you know better than to panic. However, it’s important to understand a few things about how this election will impact your money.

On this Podcast Episode

I’m chatting with CEO and Founder, Jane Barratt, from GoldBean (you know the great company that helps you invest and buy stocks that you know and love), and Andrew Thomas, Investment Advisor at Blooom (the company that helps you manage your 401(k) without pie charts and crazy line graphs. We’ll discuss:

  • Should you be worried about your investments with this election
  • What are some general trends that millennials should pay attention to
  • Why now might be the best time to start investing
  • and a ton more wisdom from these two superstars

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you what the future holds. What I can tell you is that the stock market ebbs and flows. It comes and it goes. What seems like the end of the world today, turns a corner tomorrow and the stock market rallies. You will survive this election.

If you’re new to investing, or never bothered, I highly suggest reading up on the stock market and getting educated. Both Blooom and GoldBean have awesome educational resources and team armed and ready to give you insights. Don’t try to go at this investing thing by yourself.

There are also a ton of great books out there to help with investing. Some of my very favorites are One Up on Wall Street and the Intelligent Investor. 



This Budget Thing Works

Marie decided to buckle down and give this budgeting thing a try, and you know what, it actually works. She was able to afford her dream vacation to Iceland.

Budgets Do Work

Podcast listener, Marie, woke up one morning and decided that it was time to give this budgeting thing a try. She buckled down, analyzed her bank statements, and was shocked at how much money she was spending on eating out. (Yah, it’s actually a common big expense for most people).

You see, she had been dreaming of a trip to Iceland, but had no idea how to achieve it. Wouldn’t you know it, all along she had the money just sitting in her bank account waiting for her to find it.

It’s In Your Bank Account

Once she came up with a game plan to cut her expenses, Marie was able to afford her dream trip in less than a year. Oh, and she didn’t just go to Iceland for a few days. She went to Iceland for a whole two weeks!

In this Podcast Episode

  • Learn how Marie implemented a few changes so that she could save HUGE bucks each month
  • Find out how awesome her trip to Iceland really was
  • What goals are on tap next, and her advice to other budgeting skeptics

Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard, and that’s coming from me as both the money expert, and an everyday person just like you. I really don’t like to budget each month. I kind of do it with a bit of an attitude, if I’m honest.

BUT, and this is a big one, I know how important budgeting is to my entire financial future. Budgeting is how I’m going to be able to achieve all the dreams and goals that I want to….and I’ve got some big ones to achieve.

Hang in there if budgeting is hard for you. Keep working at it and I promise you will see the difference in your wallet, and in your life, very soon.

Don’t forget to leave review of Millennial Money in iTunes if you like this episode. It means a lot to me, and can’t thank you enough for listening. Now, let’s go out there an slay some budgets.

7 Smart Money Moves in Your 20’s

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “Am I making the right money moves for my age?” It makes me super happy that you are thinking about that and worried about it. I’ll be honest, when I was in my early 20’s, I wasn’t thinking about “am I making the right money moves.”

Trying to figure out what to do with your money in your 20's can be tricky. I've got a handy guide to help you through it PLUS a FREE e course.


How Budgeting Makes You Sexier + FREE Money Cheatsheet

Did you know that budgeting makes you sexier? Check this out PLUS a FREE sexy money cheat sheet. I bet you didn’t know that budgeting actually makes you sexier. It’s true, I swear by it.

Country to popular belief, budgeting doesn’t have to be a terrible horrible word. When you master budgeting and have it down pat, you can create a new budget blindfolded and in no time flat.

You see, everyone wants you to believe that you can’t figure out budgeting and that it’s going to tell you all the stuff you can’t do. Yah, don’t listen to those people.

Budgeting is there to show all the stuff you CAN do. All the goals you CAN accomplish. All the positive financial steps you CAN make.

How does this make you sexier you ask? (more…)

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#1 Way to Fix Your Budget

budget, budgeting, expenses, savings, millennialWhy is my budget always failing? That’s the #1 question I’m always asked, and I can usually answer it once I know the answer to the following question, “Do you know your numbers?”

To which you might reply, “My numbers, what do you mean?”


Knowing your numbers is the #1 way to fix your budget, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. It is the most hated step in the budgeting process because it takes the most amount of time. Sure, you can simply this process, which I’ll talk about later, but to get the ball rolling, you’ve got to be willing to roll up your sleeve and get down and dirty with your spending. (more…)

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Goals Are Great…You Need a Freakin’ System

financial goalsGoals are fantastic.

They are the backbone to your budget and provide the GPS system for your financial future.

The problem is that most people set financial goals and never achieve them..and wonder why they can never get ahead financially.

It’s because you need a freakin’ system for success!

You would never set out to run a marathon without a game plan in place. You don’t just magically run 26.2 miles (and survive). You need to know when to train, how much to train and so on. Your goal is the date you will run the race, but the game plan (system) is all of the details for how you are going to achieve that goal.

2016 is the perfect time to get your goals together and create a system to achieve each one of them.

*If you want to travel…great… you need a system.
*If you want to pay off debt…great…you need a system.
*If you want to buy a house…great…you need a system.
*If you want to move abroad…great…you need a system.
Take a listen to this podcast where I talk about how to get your system in place so 2016 will be your best financial year yet!

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PS- I’m launching a FREE e-course on How to Build a Better Budget on January 4th. Sign up below so you can once and for all figure out how to do this budget thing (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s the secret to your financial success each month and I’m going to tell you how to do it.)

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8 Step Money Game Plan for the Start of Each Month

8 Step Money Game PlanHut, Hut, Hike.

Whether you like sports or not, you know that before each game the team has a game plan for how they will win. I want you to think of your finances the same way. We need a money game plan, an action plan and goals that we are trying to achieve to keep us on track. Otherwise, most of us feel like we are just shooting in the dark, and this stuff is hard. Even if you are in a  great money situation, I’m sure that there are a few things that trip you up, or maybe that you aren’t paying enough attention to.

This is the 8 step money game plan that I came up with years ago to keep me focused at the start of each month. I use it month after month and wanted to share it with you. It’s helped a lot of my clients as well take “control” of their money and make some positive changes. (more…)

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