Life moves fast. Circumstances change. But financial plans sometimes lag far behind – costing you time, money and lost opportunity. Fortunately, there are adjustments that can make a big difference to your financial future.

1. Maximize your employer-sponsored benefits and tax-advantaged plans.

If you’re not already taking full advantage of your employer-sponsored benefits and other tax-advantaged plans, you could be leaving money on the table. Here are five actions you may want to consider taking and why.

Make the most of your employer’s matching 401k contributions.

Employers typically match employees’ 401k retirement contributions up to a certain percentage of annual salary. If you’re not contributing enough to receive the full match, you could be losing money on several fronts:

  • Your employer’s full dollar contribution
  • The tax savings on your own pre-tax contribution
  • The compounding power of those combined contributions over time

So, if possible, boost your own contributions to earn that match.If you’re self-employed, talk to your Relationship Banker about setting up an IRA or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) or increasing your contribution up to the allowable limit.

Consider making a catch-up contribution to a qualified retirement account if you’re age fifty or older.

It will help reduce your taxes this year and, depending upon investment performance, increase your retirement nest egg for future years.

Spend down any balances in your health savings and/or flexible spending accounts that can’t be carried forward into the new year.

Even if you have no pending medical expenses, consider this: There are a surprising number of eligible, health-related expenditures that don’t require a prescription – from contact lens solution to sunscreen. Just make sure to check with your benefits administrator for plan specifics.

2. Review your options for charitable donations.

As the saying goes, you can do well by doing good – reducing your taxes while supporting a worthy cause. But sometimes there’s a smarter way to do good. For example, in lieu of donating cash or household goods, consider donating appreciated stock from your investment portfolio. You can deduct the gift and avoid paying tax on the appreciation. Your M&T Relationship Banker can help determine if this approach is right for you.

3. Revisit plans for funding your kids’ college education.

If you haven’t done so already, consider setting up a 529 college savings plan that allows you and others (including friends, relatives and acquaintances) to contribute directly to the account. While the contributions aren’t deductible from federal taxes, earnings used for eligible college expenses are. Some state-sponsored 529 plans offer state tax deductions, scholarships or matching contributions.

4. Prepare for the year ahead.

With these considerations fresh in mind, it’s also ideal to plan and make adjustments for the year ahead. For example, you may want to:

  • Adjust your health and life insurance coverage based on age and life circumstances – if you’re nearing 65, you’ll want to review your Medicare options and deadlines carefully to avoid costly penalties and coverage mistakes
  • Increase or decrease contributions to your healthcare spending account to offset changes in insurance deductibles or anticipated medical expenses
  • Review your payroll withholding to ensure you’re not paying too much or too little in taxes
  • Adjust the asset allocation in your retirement portfolio based on retirement goals and risk tolerance
  • Ensure all plan beneficiaries, health care directives and estate planning documents are up-to-date
  • Analyze your personal cash flow to meet your revised savings goals and reflect any major upcoming expenses such as home improvements

5. Schedule a financial review with your M&T Relationship Banker.

If all this sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry. M&T’s Relationship Bankers and financial consultants are here to help. With experience in wealth management and estate, retirement, education and insurance planning, they’ll help you clarify your goals and identify the steps you can take to pursue them.

So don’t wait to make adjustments or to plan for next year; schedule an appointment with one of our Relationship Bankers and get started today.

This content is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.