Five smart money moves to help your finances

ST. LOUIS, Mo. _The year quickly coming to an end. Now is a good time to look at your finances.

Ken Heise from the Heise Advisory Group, gives us with Five Smart Money Moves that can help your finances in 2018 and beyond!

1. Prep For Tax Season
The tax filing season opens in January, so now is a good time to get ready.
Start by getting organized.
Get folders for all your income, expenses and deductions and your investments.
You can break your deductions down by category, for example, create sections for medical, charity and business.
You can even do a dry run on your taxes so you have a better idea of your tax situation.
It`s a good idea to do this before the end of the year, because you still have time to take action if you choose to.

2. Reduce Your Tax Bill
There are several steps you can take before the end of the year to reduce your tax bill. Look for any payments you can make early, like your January mortgage payment. If you can make it in December, you can deduct the interest on the current year.

If you have a 401(k) at work, bump up your contributions so more of your income is tax-deferred.

In 2018, the amount you can contribute to your 401(k) will increase to $18,500, with workers over the age of 50 eligible to contribute an additional $6,000 in catch up contributions.

IRA contributions will remain at $5,500 for younger workers, with an additional $1,000 for workers over the age of 50. And, of course, be charitable! Donations made to charities in 2017 may be deductible on this year`s taxes.

It can all be confusing, so see a tax professional if you have any questions.

3. Set Your 2018 Financial Plan
Take a comprehensive look at your finances . Did you have any unnecessary expenses in 2017 that you can cut next year? Can you bump up your savings in 2018?

If you don`t have a budget, now is the time to set one! You may also want to set up a meeting with your financial professional for an annual review, especially if you`re approaching retirement, so you can make any necessary adjustments.

4. Convert to a Roth IRA
You may want to consider converting some of your money from a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

Here`s why:
You do not get upfront tax breaks on a Roth IRA, however, your withdrawals are made tax-free as long as you are older than 59 1/2. But here`s the catch. Roth IRAs are subject to what`s called the 5-year rule; you cannot withdraw your earnings tax-free until five years after the tax year you make your first contribution.

No matter when you make a conversion in 2017, the clock gets set back to January 1st, 2017.

So, if you make a conversion in November or December, it`s like getting a free year! You`ll be able to start withdrawing your earnings tax-free a full year earlier than if you wait until next January.

5. Check Your Insurance
Life insurance always seems to be a daunting topic because we are talking about what happens to your finances if or when you pass away. Life insurance takes care of your family, helping ensure they will be financially fit even when you are not around.

A good rule of thumb is to get enough coverage for 10 to 15 times your current salary.

A life insurance calculator, like the on my website at, can help determine how much coverage you actually need. Also, Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date.

You may need to make changes if there were any major life changes, like births, deaths, marriages or divorces this year.