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Fall financial goals check-in
How are you doing on your 2022 financial goals—and what can you do before the end of the year?
Fall is finally here, bringing with it the joys of a new school year, another football season, and a welcome round of homecomings and holidays.
Autumn is a busy time, and it can often be an expensive one—which means it’s worth setting aside a few hours to check in with your finances. Whether you’re sad to see the end of summer or excited about cooler weather, it’s a great opportunity to ask yourself how you feel about your 2022 financial goals—and what you still need to do before winter arrives.
“Fall is a great time to think about what you want to accomplish before the end of the year,” says Jim Wang, founder of WalletHacks.
You might want to start by revisiting your summer financial check-in. If you set yourself the goal of building an emergency fund, for example, how much did you want to set aside this summer—and how much did you actually save? If you’re ahead of your fall finance checkup, that’s great. If you’re behind schedule, you still have time to catch up—but keep in mind that, for many people, this time of year prompts not only a shift in temperature but also in priorities.
“When heading into fall, most people are thinking about back to school and the upcoming holidays,” explains Steffa Mantilla, Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and founder of Money Tamer. “Both of these can be strains on your budget, so it’s important to start planning and saving for them now.”
We asked our experts how you can prepare your fall finance planning —and here’s what we learned. Read on for our top fall financial tips.
In this article:
Get ready to go back to school
For many parents, the school year has already started, or they’re preparing it to begin—whether they’re streamlining the morning routine, learning how to pack better sack lunches or talking to their kids about updated mask mandates. They’re also dealing with higher-than-usual grocery prices, not to mention notebooks, new shoes and long-overdue haircuts.
If you’re experiencing financial stress and aren’t ready to handle the increased cost of going back to school, it’s time to reevaluate your budget. You might want to consider cutting back on streaming services, for example—especially now that the kids are going to be out of the house for most of the day. You may also need to press pause on your savings goal—at least for a while.
“If the cost of back-to-school is unachievable,” says Mantilla, “you should reassess your savings goal to see if you can do with less.” Try to keep enough cash on hand to cover an emergency or any unexpected expense, and keep in mind that investing in your children’s education is one of the best ways to create generational wealth.
Start saving for the holidays
The holidays will be here soon whether you’re ready or not—and one of the best ways to get ready for the holidays is by saving money now.
How much money should you save for the 2022 holiday season? Take a look at the last few years of holiday expenses to get an idea of how much your holiday season usually costs. Then ask yourself how much you want to spend this year—and how much you might need to set aside every month. Setting up budgets like this is especially important if you want to have a debt-free holiday season this year.
“Once you have the amount, you can divide it by the number of months you have before you need to spend the money,” Mantilla explains. “This monthly amount is how much you’ll need to save in order to reach your goals in time.”
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to save enough to cover the costs of the holidays, you may want to look for ways to earn more money this fall. “Find ways to make up the difference,” says Mantilla. “This could mean taking on overtime at work or taking on odd jobs on the weekends for some extra cash.”
Plan ahead for tax season
There’s one more annual event you’ll want to start thinking about this fall. Tax season will be here before you know it—and the more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to file your taxes.
“Tax planning is especially important because we often only think about it when we’re getting close to Christmas, when the time crunch puts an unnecessary sense of urgency and pressure on our decisions,” says Wang. “It’s better to start tax planning now, and make those preparations early.”
What kinds of preparations should you make? Wang has two suggestions. First, start by looking for opportunities to defer income. “If you’re expecting a year-end bonus, can your company defer it to January 1st rather than paying it in December?” Wang asks. “You’ll still owe taxes on the bonus, but not until the next tax year.”
Deferring income can benefit people who might be in a lower tax bracket in the future—especially if you take advantage of retirement plans that allow you to defer taxes on your contributions until you begin making withdrawals. If you’re concerned about how the recession might affect your job, deferring income could be one way to keep a little more of your hard-earned money. “It’s easier to have these conversations in September then in December,” Wang advises—and that applies whether you’re talking to your spouse about your career prospects or talking to your employer about deferring a bonus.
Wang also suggests looking into the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) system. “AMT is a separate tax system that has slightly different exemptions and rates,” he explains, “and is meant to ensure taxpayers pay a minimum amount of tax.” Be aware that the AMT system may limit your potential deductions—and be prepared to calculate your taxable income under both the AMT and the regular system before filing.
No matter how you approach your financial goals this fall, taking the time to check in with your progress will help you make smart decisions as you go back-to-school, prepare for the holidays and start planning ahead for next year’s taxes. You may discover a new way of earning income—or a new way of financial planning!
Not bad for a season that’s all about learning, reconnecting and harvesting—and, of course, preparing to celebrate the end of the year.
About Nicole Dieker
Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.Read more by Nicole Dieker
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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