Summer To-Do’s

May 23, 2024

To those of you that live in a four-season area, congratulations! We have once again made it thru winter and once again find ourselves (almost) immersed in the glorious days of summer. I fully appreciate that any free summer days are mostly spent taking road trips, working on yards & gardens, relaxing by the pool, or simply lingering in the warm temps and long daylight hours. However, if you find yourself looking for a few financial to-do’s to tackle during these months – when energy levels and spirits are usually at a high point – feel free to read on!

1.) Check your contribution levels year-to-date – it won’t be long now before we are halfway thru 2024. Summer is a great time to review your retirement account contributions for the year thus far (401ks, 403bs, IRAs, etc) and see how you are tracking against the annual allowable amounts. If you are less than 50% thru your limit as of mid-year, consider increasing your contribution rate. (Please remain mindful of any income limitations that may prevent you for funding to the max).

2.) Review beneficiary designations – you may be surprised how often I see beneficiary designations that are outdated and no longer in line with clients’ wishes. Life gets busy and it’s easy to overlook seemingly small details (that will become very material if something were to happen to you). Take a minute to review all of your bank and investment accounts and ensure they are properly titled and/or have updated beneficiaries in line with your current wishes.

3.) Complete Q2 estimated tax payment -estimated tax payments for the second quarter are due on June 17th (you get two extra days as the 15th falls on a weekend). You can make the payment based on your 2024 safe harbor estimates. However, given that half the year is almost over, it’s also a nice time to check in on your actual 2024 estimated income in comparison to the estimate used in your quarterly payment calculation. If actual is materially higher, you may wish to reserve extra cash starting this quarter.

4.) Sort your cash – My guess (and hope) is you have already taken care of this, given how high interest rates have stayed for quite some time. With interest rates still hovering near record levels, it is worthwhile ensuring your cash balances are properly “sorted” – which means separating cash balances between interest bearing accounts (such as money market funds) and low/no interest checking accounts – based upon your spending patterns and liquidity needs. Also, it’s worth noting that available rates on money market funds will come down if/when the Federal Reserve lowers rates. As a result, if you have longer-term savings in zero-duration money market funds right now, adjustment to that strategy before rates fall may also be advisable (work with your advisor on this).

5.) Consider charitable gifting – Most of us reserve our charitable giving for the final months of the year. If you have charitable gifting plans for this year, you may wish to consider making those gifts now to help these organizations with cash flow timing – and to get a few items “off the list!” If you have a Donor Advised Fund in place, you may wish to fund it now (with markets at all-time highs, there could be a great opportunity to use appreciated stock held over a year to do this as well).

6.) Monitor your budget – Summer can be a busy (and costly) time of year. While you certainly should enjoy these wonderful months, don’t lose complete sight of your budgetary discipline. Perhaps set a goal for spending (and savings) in advance of summer so you have some guardrails in place before the fun starts.

7.) Make a list – If summer financial work is not your idea of a good time, perhaps you can keep a running to-do list of items to handle on a rainy day, or later in the year when summer is once again on its way out.

There you have it. A few ideas to keep your finances on track as summer approaches! Enjoy this season!

Onward we go,

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