It’s hard to believe 2017 is almost over. Where did the year go?

While you’re no doubt preparing for the holiday season, it’s also a crucial time to do some financial planning housekeeping. Blocking some time in your calendar to do the following will help you save money and prepare you mentally for 2018.

Maximise your retirement/investment savings.

Nothing will help you achieve financial freedom and independence more than putting away money for the future. It makes sense to use this time to take stock of how much you’ve saved and whether you can afford to top up. Some retirement schemes will help reduce your tax liability so take advantage of them. Be aware of contribution limits and be sure not to miss any deadlines.

Optimise your company benefits and policies.

If you have an employee pension plan in which the employer and employee contribute, is there a cutoff for contributions and if so have you met it? Some companies also have health plans with a maximum claimable amount for any calendar year. If you haven’t used it, you may want to get in that dentist or optometrist appointment before Dec 31st. Does your organisation have a cut off date to submit work and travel related expenses? What about vacation carry-over limitations? This is the time to get your receipts in order and plan holidays so you don’t lose out on owed vacation days.

Don’t leave potential free money on the table.

Take advantage of tax saving schemes.

Aside from maximising retirement contributions in government schemes, there are other ways to save taxes which require your attention before the year closes.

Tax-loss selling – this is where you offset realised capital gains with realised capital losses by selling stocks, bonds, mutual funds and exchange-trade funds (ETFs) to help reduce taxes. It’s a smart tax saving strategy in jurisdictions where investment gains are taxable.

Charitable giving – donations are usually tax deductible so if you’re planning on giving to your favourite charity, you’ll want to make it before year-end. Be sure to keep the receipt.

Review your goals. Set new ones.

Now is a great time to review your 2017 financial situation. What went well? What didn’t go so well? Were the goals you set this year realistic and if not do you need to revise them? Were your investments aligned with your goals, and if not what changes should you make? Make your 2018 goals and think about how you’ll achieve them.