Commentary: Financial Tips You'll Be Thankful You Followed

We're just days away from Thanksgiving, and it got us thinking about the things we're thankful for. We're thankful for our health, our loved ones and that we get to go to work every day doing something we love.

We're just days away from Thanksgiving, and it got us thinking about the things we're thankful for. We're thankful for our health, our loved ones and that we get to go to work every day doing something we love.

While we hope that you have plenty to be thankful for this time of year, there's always room for more gratitude. With that in mind, we wanted to share three financial tips that you'll almost certainly be thankful you heeded.

Think about Your Taxes before New Year's Day

Each spring, you put in hours talking to your CPA-or poring over receipts and financial documents if you file yourself-but by that time, many of the options you can utilize to lessen your tax bill are no longer available.

That's why we refer to tax planning as a year-round activity. By thinking about your taxes throughout the year, you're able to take advantage of planning opportunities when they present themselves. This means, for our philanthropic readers, getting your charitable deductions in before the end of the year. If you're planning on making contributions to a tax-deferred retirement account to lower your taxable income, you'll have to make contributions to your employer-sponsored plan by the end of the year; contributions to a tax-deferred IRA can be made until April 17, 2017.


Consider a Roth Conversion

This dovetails with our previous discussion on year-end tax planning. If you have lower taxable income than you're accustomed to this year, this may be a great opportunity to convert some of your tax-deferred savings into a Roth IRA. Performing a Roth conversion will mean a higher tax bill, but in many situations, the benefits you'll receive from the conversion will far outweigh the costs.

Money in a Roth can grow tax-free. You won't pay any taxes on the gains, assuming you wait five years and are at least 59.5 before withdrawing the converted money. Money in a Roth IRA is also exempt from required minimum distributions, meaning you, rather than Uncle Sam, will be in complete control in deciding when you withdraw the money. And for those who are receiving Social Security, distributions from a Roth IRA are one of the few income sources that aren't included in your provisional income when calculating the percentage of your Social Security income that may be taxable.

Imagine Your Retirement Lifestyle

While it's not an overtly financial tip, it's a good idea to think about what your retirement may look like if you're getting close to your dream retirement date. By thinking about what your goals are for your retirement and what your lifestyle may be, you'll have a better sense of how much you'll need to accumulate in savings before you can retire and what sorts of cash flow needs you'll have to support that vision. Plus, reflecting on what your retirement will look like may also help you be more prepared to make the psychological transition into retirement.

This is the time of year when our focus tends to be on our friends and family, rather than on our wallets. That said, down the road when you're reviewing your finances, we believe you'll be thankful you used these forward-thinking financial strategies.

To all of our loyal readers, we want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of "Your Money" on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at . Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial.

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