Saturday, July 7, 2007

Financial Calender per Money Magazine

As Q2 has just ended, how's your desk looking? Between work and family, it's hard to stay organized. And when it's warm and lovely outside, who cares! Well, before you completely forget, here's a list of things from Money magazine's December 2006 issue to keep you on your toes. An annual planner to help you keep your financial affairs and such in order.

Here are a few that you might still be able to take advantage of.
2nd Quarter

Empty your desk drawers - Prune your papers by ditching 2006's pay stubs, undisputed medical insurance claims, monthly credit-card and brokerage statements, and credit-card and ATM receipts. Hang on to year-end investment records indefinitely and tax records for at least seven years.

Weather the storm - Rates for homeowners insurance are expected to climb 4% nationally in 2007, far more in coastal areas. You may get a discount if you install storm shutters and take other steps to hurricane-proof your home. Plus, update your home inventory by videotaping your belongings.

Do It Now:
-Get a big tax refund? Adjust your W4 withholding by adding another allowance.
-Free up time in 2007. Sign up for online bill pay at your bank.
-Lower your risk of ID theft by stopping credit-card solicitations. Call 888-567-8688. (Note: you have to supply your Social Security Number)
-Cut down on unwanted catalogues (and save a few trees). Pay $1 to have your name removed from mailing lists at DMA consumers.

Stuff that you should start looking at over the next few months.
3rd Quarter

Save your energy - Unless Congress acts, this is the last year certain energy-friendly home upgrades, such as installing new windows and insulation, will entitle you to a federal tax credit worth up to $500 (find details at ASE). Even if you can't claim the credit, plugging drafs, adding insulation and switching to compact fluorescent bulbs can save you hundreds on utility bills this winter.

Hit the seas - For the best berth and price, you generally have to book cruises nine to 12 months in advance. But you can find a cheap spot on a repositioning cruise on much shorter notice. These trips often go from Europe to the Caribbean between late September and mid-December, as cruise companies move their ships to warmer spots for the winter. Repositioning cruises offer discounts of 75% or more on high-season prices, and with fewer families crowding the ships, you might nab an upgrade, too.

Fund a 529 - Money in these college savings plans grows tax-free, and you won't pay taxes on the withdrawals now that Congress has made that perk permanent.

Insure your life for less - Rates on term life insurance are expected to drop 4% in 2007. If you have a policy and you're in good health, you may be able to save by shopping around. Compare prices at and

Tally your medical bills - If you've already spent most of your health insurance deductible, try to advance some of next year's doctor visits and procedures into the second half of 2007 so that your insurer will foot the entire bill.

Plan Ahead:
-Order your second credit report of 2007 in July here.
-Have your furnace inspected; once cold weather hits, repair pros will be busier.
-Buy a bike. Most manufacturers ship next year's models in September. To clear out 2007 inventory, stores may knock 15-25% off the price.
-Look for computer deals. With the early 2007 wide release of Microsoft's Vista and faster chips from Intel, older models should be discounted

Stuff to think about in a few months.
4th Quarter

Look in on your investments - Once a year you should make sure your stock and bond allocations match your plan. If not, sell winners and buy losers to restore your optimal mix. You can rebalance any time of year, but fall is an especially good time if you invest outside tax-sheltered retirement accounts. That's because you can sell dud investments before year-end and cut your 2007 tax bill. If your losses outstrip your gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 worth of losses against ordinary income.

Spread holiday cheer - Donate to your favorite charity by 12/31. Starting in 2007, you'll need a receipt for all cash gifts, no matter how small. That could be a letter from the charity, a canceled check or a credit-card statement. Plus you'll need an appraisal for any donated item worth more than $500.

Read all e-mails from HR - Typically, November is open-enrollment season, and once again you may see new choices like a health savings account, which lets you put away pretax money for medical costs. To fund an HSA, you must pick a high-deductible insurance plan (at least $2,200 for families).

Grab tax breaks at work - Depending on your company's policies, you may be able to stash several thousand dollars pretax in a flexible spending account that you can tap to pay for medical expenses; you can put aside another $3,000 for day-care costs;$105 a month for mass transit and $205 for parking.

Hit your boss up for cash - Pay raises are expected to average 3.7% in 2007 (about the same as last year). Raise your chances for more dough by asking in fall, when the head honchos are tinkering with the 2008 budget.

Beat the clock:
-If you filed for an extention on your taxes in April, your new deadline is October 15.
-If you are 65 or older, re-enroll for the Medicare drug plan for 2008 between November 15 and December 31.
-You can give up to $12,000 tax-free to any number of people by December 31. A couple can together give $24,000.
-Order your last free credit report of 2007 in December here.
-Shop online for gifts before December 14 to get free shipping from major e-tailers.