New Year, New You

It’s that end of the year for all the boring, adult things we have to do, like HSA and IRA end-of-year deadlines. This stuff isn’t as daunting as it seems though and once you get it off your plate, you’ll feel better and be set up to begin the new year. This is the cheat sheet for sifting through bureaucratic websites and paperwork to get everything lined up. Here are some tips and tricks:

Make it Easy

Don’t make this harder than it has to be. The IRS has a webpage dedicated to end-of-year IRA reminders, such as contribution limits. The 2021 contribution limit is $6,000 but can be more if you make less than $76,000; the catch-up limit for people 50 and older is $1,000; The Roth IRA income limit is $140,000 for individuals and $208,000 for couples; and the saver’s credit income limit is $33,000 for individuals and $66,000 for couples. Look to the agencies as your first resource and see if they’ve linked to web pages and FAQs that can help you out. It’s best to go directly to the source first and then look elsewhere if your question hasn’t been answered.

Take a Deep Breath

With end of year deadlines, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and get yourself organized before you even dive in. Don’t stress yourself out before you’ve begun. Having a clear head is important to help you send in everything correctly and for making sure you didn’t miss anything. It’s helpful to even write out a To-Do list and physically cross or check off the deadlines that you’ve made. You could even take ten minutes to create an Excel spreadsheet with deadlines. Or use an app like Webull. You can start making IRA contributions January 1 and you have until the April 15 tax filing deadline to make a contribution for the previous tax year.

Use that FSA Money

If you don’t use your FSA money by December 31, it’s gone. This is money that your employer allowed you to set aside for healthcare purposes. You can use this for dental or vision care. So call up your dentist or optometrist and get an appointment in. In the future, you should start thinking about the FSA deadline around the fall so that you can get in to see your doctors before appointments fill up. And don’t forget to visit the FSA store to see what products you can buy. If you aren’t able to get in for a vision exam, spend your money there instead. But remember, that your new FSA benefits start on January 1!

Check in If You Don’t Know

It’s easy to miss some of these deadlines if you don’t even know they exist. Check with your employer to see what sort of benefits you have and then do your research into any deadlines you may be missing. It’s hard to keep track, so don’t be embarrassed about asking. Sometimes employers have an internal portal you can check, or go straight to HR if you have further questions. If you’re self employed, ask a friend who’s self employed or reach out to organizations like the Freelancers Union.

Treat Yourself

After you get all your deadlines in, it’s time to reward yourself. Part of starting fresh in the new year is coming into the new year with a good mindset. If you spent weeks or days stressed out about these deadlines, that won’t be a good way to start the new year. So, treat yourself to something nice—a day off, an at-home facial—and reset yourself for January.

I know the first-of-the-year deadlines aren’t exactly a good time, but you’ll thank yourself for getting everything in and even having time to spare for yourself. These are things that adults have to do and it feels good to do adult things and be responsible. The best part is you’ll be set up for the new year. And try to have some fun. Perusing the FSA store can be enjoyable! There’s some good stuff on there.

A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.


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