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Q&A | 5 Questions with a Financial Planner

Friday, December 30, 2011

The end of the year is usually a time where people take a look at their finances to get ready for taxes or prepare for the new year. WNYC spoke with Certified Financial Planner Clare Stenstrom, with Bourne Stenstrom Lent Asset Management, Inc., to find out what steps people can take before the year closes out.

Its’ the end of the year, what kind of advice to you give to people at this time of the year?

It’s the last day of the year, so it’s a tough one. Even today, even if it’s last minute, you have the chance to take any capital loses you have in your investment accounts and your personal accounts. You can put up to $3,000 of personal loses against your personal income, so that lowers your tax rate. They have until 4 p.m.

The other thing you want to do is, if you have medical reimbursement accounts or any type of corporate account that doesn’t roll over to next year, take any of your allowable exclusions. So, if you have a transit check that doesn’t roll over, go out and buy a pass.

What about charitable contributions?

Charitable contributions, dollar for dollar, come off your income. So it lowers your income. And it’s a wonderful feeling to give money to a charity.

Is it too late to do anything else?

No. One thing I didn’t mention is make sure you put the maximum amount in your IRA or 401(k). And you might be able to do it. And you always put as much money as you can in your 401(k), especially if your employer does match.

What do you recommend for the beginning of the year?

What you want to do is a personal financial review. I review all my accounts every year. You want to make sure you have a listing somewhere of all your account numbers, all your financial transactions – your bills, your savings your checking your retirement accounts your investment accounts, even your insurance – and you want to give a copy of that your trusted person…so that if something happens to your, if I was incapacitated for a month or tow… there are certain services that wouldn’t get paid. So you want to do that.

Any last minute advice you give to people?

Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t do it. Make your resolution, start early have it ready to go so next December 31 you’ll really applaud yourself.

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