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We’re all feeling that holiday buzz that has nothing to do with wine consumption (or maybe it does) and are counting the days until we can check out for the holiday season.

But before you do, I have three simple tasks for you to do so you can really relax and enjoy your time with friends and family…without feeling like you have something hanging over your head.

Tax loss harvesting – time to talk to your advisor!

If you have an investment account (outside of retirement accounts) that has positions that have lost money in 2021, you may be able to offset short-term capital gains in other positions. This is a strategy in which it’s a good idea to consult with your financial advisor. Make that appointment!

Use Flex Spending Account dollars and/or vacation time that won’t roll over.

Take a minute to check your employer benefits for dollars that won’t roll over. Remember that money you have deferred out of your paycheck into a Flex Spending Account (FSA) does not roll over into the new year and must be used by the end of 2021 – don’t leave that money on the table!

Also, check your company policy on vacation days or general Paid Time Off. Many have policies regarding how much can be carried into the new year. Again, your vacation time is part of your compensation, so you don’t want to leave that money back in 2021.

Check allocations in investment accounts and rebalance.

You set an asset allocation and then immediately the performance of your investments move out of whack. Different investments perform in unequal ways, e.g. your large cap fund has gained more than your emerging markets fund. Rebalancing moves those investments back to an allocation you desire. This is important in both retirement and nonretirement accounts. Another one that your advisor can help with!

These dates are arbitrary, and you can certainly create your own deadlines (the sooner you call your advisor, the better). Completing these simple tasks will help you breathe a little easier over the holiday season and get you started on the right foot for the new year.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

We’re coming up on open enrollment time again! In most states, open enrollment begins on November 1st and goes until January 15th.

While it might be tempting to just “set it and forget it” I’ll explain why you should review your benefits every year. Remember that your employee benefits can actually be a big part of your income. You don’t want to leave money on the table!

I started a new job at the beginning of 2021. Can I still change my benefits during open enrollment?

Most employers that offer group insurance benefits hold open enrollment in the 4th quarter. This is your opportunity to change benefits that were selected the previous year, or when you originally enrolled if you started a new job in 2021.

What are some savings plans that I should be aware of?

Many employers offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a Health Savings Account (HAS), or both. They are similar but have one very important difference.

Why is it important for me to understand all of my benefits?

There is a significant monetary value to your benefits, and you need to understand them to get the most out of them. Employer benefits are part of your compensation; you definitely don’t want to leave that money on the table.

Health care is expensive and not understanding what your needs are and miscalculating the best plan for you can be a very costly mistake. Deductibles and copays can be thousands of dollars a year. Understanding the details of how each choice works will help you get the most monetary benefit. Remember that mistakes can be very expensive, and you can’t change until the next enrollment period!

It’s also important to know that many employers offer other benefits besides health care. Legal coverage, disability insurance, and life insurance can have significant financial benefits to you, especially if you do not qualify for insurance coverage on your own.

I’ve had the same benefits for years. Can’t I just ignore open enrollment?

Absolutely not! Your employer most likely will require you to reselect your benefits even if you are not changing any of your choices. Plus, in my experience, there always seem to be small changes year-to-year – both with your needs and the benefit plans - so you definitely want to review your choices to make sure they still are the best option for you.

What if I don’t change my benefits now. Can I change them in the future?

Most employers and government entities that have health insurance exchanges only allow you change benefits during the open enrollment period. If you miss this window you must wait until the next year’s open enrollment, unless you have a qualifying life event, such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, or a death.

One more thing.

Understanding your benefits is a big part of creating a financial planning strategy. If you find yourself confused or not sure about what options you should choose, let’s talk about it. Together we’ll look at your current situation and what you might have coming up to help ensure you’ve got all the coverage you need.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC, a registered investment advisor. GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The LPL Financial registered representative associated with this website may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the states in which they are properly registered or licensed. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident of any other state.
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