Healthy Choice Enterprise, Inc.

HCE Productions » ANZ/ Ask Nurse Z Show » ANZ Show- Health and Finance Year End Wrap -Up

 
 

ANZ Show- Health and Finance

Year End Wrap-Up

The Ask Nurse Z Show airs weekly on Internet Radio Stations: ClubSteppin.com and on GlobalNewsForum.com Please check the station schedules for the current dates and times.  Here we have presented the text form of the show for your review and information.

December is a month of traditions—a chance to enjoy parties, holiday treats and celebrations that come only once a year. We are in the last calendar month and preparing to close out the year. That means wrapping up our healthcare needs for the year and it’s your final opportunity to take stock of your finances and make adjustments, contributions or donations that could have a significant impact on what you’ll owe in taxes for the ending year.

Lets start with assessing our healthcare. Do you have insurance? It’s now a federal law that all individuals must have health insurance. If you have the opportunity through employment, a policy as a dependent or spouse, or coverage through a government agency, make sure that you have made any necessary adjustments relevant to life situations such as a new marriage, new birth, divorce, or other life changes. There are deadlines during open enrollment to gain coverage, don’t miss them.

For individuals that are self employed, coverage is attainable independently. Go to healthcare.gov. The deadline is Dec. 15. to sign up for a pay out of pocket plan for the next year. On the website they have a simple checklist to gather documents you’ll need and quick answers to popular questions. Are insurance concerns not high on your holiday list? They probably aren’t, but you could be wasting money by not reviewing your insurance usage before the holiday madness starts in earnest.

 



 

Get Your Physical Screening and Use Your Health Insurance Before  the Year’s End
The end of the year is full of activities. Family, school, and work obligations can keep you running constantly, without the time to consider other important things – such as whether you have used all of the health care and dental plan benefits covered by your insurance. Having a physical each year is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Preventive health screenings are for physical and mental health and can save your life. Screenings check for illness or disease before you have signs or feel sick. Some times things are going on that we don’t notice and sometimes other people notice things in our behavior before we identify them. Identifying health issues before they become serious is one of the best ways to stay healthy. By getting the screenings you need, your doctor is more likely to find physical or mental diseases earlier, when they are easier to treat.

At your annual physical, your doctor can review your medications to make sure they are safe and right for you. Your doctor can check for possible side effects from using multiple medications and make sure your prescriptions are current, effective, and still needed.  Write down all your medications and bring it to your appointment.

How do You Get Started?
The best way to begin is to see your doctor once a year. Seeing your doctor every year for a physical is one of the most important preventive health practices. At a yearly physical, your doctor can help find health issues before they become serious.

Your age, health, and sex will determine which tests or screenings you should have. There are many types of preventive services such as the annual physical, getting a cancer screening, dental screenings, or having an eye exam. Check with your doctor or healthcare professional to see which screenings are right for you.

Work with Your Doctor
A good patient–doctor relationship is a partnership. You and your doctor are a team working together to help you stay healthy. It’s important to talk to your doctor about concerns you have, and always ask questions.

At your appointment, remember to:

  • Make sure you understand your doctor’s diagnosis.
  • Make sure you clearly understand your doctor’s instructions
  • Share any concerns or symptoms.
  • Always ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Stay Active. Regular exercise is one of the keys to staying healthy and can help improve your strength, stamina, energy, and mood. It also helps you to maintain your independence. Joining a health club, instructor-led fitness class (such as dance, aerobics, Pilates, Tai Chi, or yoga), nutritional counseling sessions, or wellness programs can work towards getting you healthy and maintaining your health.

Your content goes here...

 

Health Insurance Coverage

               has many Facets
 
Deductibles
As you approach the end of the year, consider how close you are to your deductible since they reset at the end of each year. If you have met your deductible already, you have every incentive to take full advantage of all health care needs before the deductible resets.

Annual Maximums
Eye insurance and dental plans in particular may have a maximum coverage amount. If you expect to need upcoming work such as fillings, root canals, or crowns, and you have the available funds in your plan, get them taken care of before the plan resets for the New Year.

If you wait until the beginning of the new year you can get the same work done, but you will have used up most of your coverage for the year already. If you need follow-up work or a second major procedure, you may be on the hook for expenses.

Besides, putting off necessary dental work usually keeps you in pain for a longer time, and it has a chance of making the eventual work more complicated and expensive (and potentially life-threatening in case of infection).

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Balances
If your health insurance plan is an FSA (Flexible Spending Account), your account balance is funded with pre-tax dollars to cover your health care costs. The use of pre-tax dollars allows you to save money on your taxes by reducing taxable income.

However, the downside of an Flexible Spending Account is that you must use the benefits during the year. Benefits do not carry over; you will lose any unused money in the FSA account at the end of the year. Check the restrictions in your FSA to find out what the money can and cannot be used for, and plan your expenses far enough in advance so you are able to get a necessary appointment before year’s end.

Some Flexible Spending Account plan administrators allow a grace period (usually two and a-half months) to use up your yearly expenses.

Check with your employer's flexible spending plan, call, or log on to your flex plans contact site now to find out what your unused balance is, and make a plan to spend this on out-of-pocket health care and child-care costs. And now that over-the-counter medicines qualify for reimbursement, it is easier than ever to come up with qualifying expenses to submit for reimbursement.

Plan Changes
Given the turbulence in health care plans, the benefits you receive in the next year may be different from the ones you received this year. There is no guarantee that dental plans will remain constant from year to year, either. Do not leave any critical benefits on the table in hopes that they will increase next year.

There is one final reason you may need to use up your health insurance and dental benefits before the end of the year – if you have not been to the doctor or dentist at all. Failing to be pre-emptive with your health is the same as failing to be pre-emptive with your finances. Nothing good ever happens in that case.


In short, take care of yourself and use all the health care and dental benefits available to you. That is just plain common sense.

 



























The Money aspect of our year wrap-up.

 







































 

Start Getting Your Tax Refund Now
If you've experienced an event that will provide more tax deductions than usual this year, such as having or adopting a child or buying a home, you may be pleasantly surprised by a larger tax refund when you prepare and file your tax return next year. And while a large tax refund next year is nice, more cash flow in your paycheck now will come in handy to pay the rising costs of loans, heating bills and holiday expenses.

Remember, when you get a large tax refund, this simply means that you are overpaying your income taxes and letting the IRS keep this money as an interest free loan. Would you overpay your cable bill or your rent by several thousand dollars just to ask for it back without interest next year?

If you could use the cash instead of giving the IRS a zero percent interest loan, then reduce your tax withholding by increasing your withholding allowances, changing your withholding status or both. Do this by completing a new W-4 form and submitting it with your employer's payroll department. Do it now so that the change will be effective for the remaining pay periods in November and December.

Timing Your Deductions
Now is also the time to think about your income for this year and next year. Maximizing your tax savings from itemized deductions is all in the timing of when you pay these. For example, if you think you did or will make more money this year, next year when you file, you could be in a higher tax bracket based on that money you made.
Here are some expenses you can pay before year-end to increase your itemized deductions this year:

  • Mortgage Payments
  • State Income Taxes
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Charitable Contributions


Taxpayers who could benefit from the state sales tax deduction should consider making any planned purchases of big ticket items, such as cars, remodeling, jewelry, appliances, etc. before year's end to get the most benefit of this deduction. (Ever wonder why there are so many car commercials this time of the year?)

Consider a Roth conversion:
Crunch the numbers to see if a Roth conversion, either with your traditional IRAs and/or within your 401(k).

One other item: Having both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs give you what experts refer to as tax diversification. In years to come, you’ll have the ability, if you choose, to withdraw money from whichever retirement account provides you with the most after-tax income.

Contribute to a 529 plan:
If you’re saving for your children’s education in a 529 Plan, the end of the year is a great time to consider making an extra contribution.

Each parent or grandparent is eligible each year to gift up to $14,000 to a child tax free, and those contributions could also lead toward a state tax deduction or credit. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia offer a full or partial state income tax deduction for 529 Plan contributions. In addition, by making annual contributions, you allow the money more time to grow tax free.

Charitable contributions:
December is often a time when we think about helping others. If you’re considering giving to charity, be sure to get your donation in before December 31st so that it can count toward this tax year. “When you are looking at your year-end finances,” said Lubar, “charitable deductions can help you reduce your taxable income and minimize your taxes.

Of course, if you want to claim these donations for a tax deduction, you must itemize your deductions rather than taking the standard deduction, said Obhas. He recommends using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check tool to make sure you’re donating to a qualified charity such as our charity Healthy Choice Enterprise. Go to our website for information on what we do and PayPal donation.

 

Maximize Retirement Plan Contributions
Workers need to check their year-to-date contributions to retirement plans to determine if they are on track to make their maximum pre-tax contributions to their company provided retirement plan for the year.

Many employers retirement savings plans allow workers who qualify to make Catch-Up-Contributions. If you are not on track to maximize your retirement savings plan contributions, change the contribution from your remaining pay this year (salary and bonus) so that you can contribute the maximum allowable into your plan. This accomplishes two things: increases your retirement savings and reduces your taxable income on this year's tax return.

Retirees Year-End Overview
As the end of the year approaches, here are three major items that should be on your to-do list for you retired clients.

Required Minimum Distributions
Clients who are 70½ or older must take their required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year from retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s and others. If you forget to take this required distribution, you can get stuck with a stiff penalty. The penalties for not taking the entire required amount is 50% of the amount not taken plus they still must pay any taxes that would be due.

The deadline is December 31 for the current year. Generally these required minimum distributions must begin by April 1 of the year following your age 70 1/2 years. It's often advised to begin these distributions in the year you turn 70 1/2 so as to avoid taking two distributions in the following year. After that, these required distributions must be withdrawn from retirement accounts before Dec. 31 each year.

The amount required to be distributed in the first year of required minimum distributions is about 3.65 percent of the value of the retirement accounts at the end of the prior year. If you are retired and have a retirement account please work with a tax professional to avoid withdrawal penalties and lose money you worked so hard for.

Retirees can deduct medical expenses and mileage primarily for medical care counts too.

Review Medicare and Social Security benefits:
Review your Medicare, supplemental and prescription drug plans, and especially the latter if you have changed medication. And Obhas recommends reviewing your Social Security benefits statement, which can be found at ssa.gov.

Also, figure out when you (and your spouse) should take your benefits, said Obhas. The earliest is at age 62, the latest is age 70. After 70, your benefits no longer increase. Your full retirement age depends on the year you were born, your statement will tell you when your full retirement age is. “Taking your benefit before your full retirement age can limit social security strategies available to you and your spouse,” said Obhas. “Strategies such as spousal benefit, file and suspend, and the like should be examined.”

If you’re divorced and had been married for 10 years or more, look into the benefits available to you. One strategy, according to Obhas, is this: “You could delay taking your own benefit by taking your ex-spouse’s benefit, which is one-half of their retirement benefit. Certain restrictions apply: you must be married for 10 years or longer, you must not be currently married, and you must be age 62 or older.”

 






















Year-end moves for the Self-Employed
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of self-employed workers in the United States is approximately 10.3 million. But add to that the number of small business owners and the number is significantly higher. The Small Business Owners and the Self-Employed have great flexibility over the timing of their income and expenses and should consider the following year-end financial strategies:

Defer Income:
By waiting until next year in January to send December bills to customers.

Employ and Pay Family:
Small business owners can deduct and pay each employee who is their child as much as $8,850 and they may pay NO income taxes on this amount. If the employee-child is under the age of 18, they may not even owe any Social Security or Medicare taxes.

This works because each income earning individual can claim a standard deduction of $4,850 and can also contribute up to $4000 to a deductible IRA in 2005. And parents who own a business and employ and pay their children more than $8,850 can save more: the employed child has earnings in their lower tax bracket and can contribute to a deductible or Roth IRA while the parents business gets a deduction for the income paid out at a higher tax bracket.

Open a Retirement Plan Account:
Open a retirement plan before year's end. You still have an opportunity in December to get deductions to decrease your total adjusted gross income for the year by maxing out your retirement contributions. Retirement contributions to IRA and 401(k) accounts are a great way to do this and can reduce how much tax you’ll owe or could even ensure you get a refund.

One type of retirement plan to consider is the Self-Employed 401(k) plan. The catch is that the plan account must be established and opened before December 31st.

Contributions don't have to be made by then but to take a tax deduction on your tax return; you must have established the account and have an account number before the end of year.

Don’t forget the basics
The end of the year also is a good time to review your yearly budget and make sure you’re on track and not overspending. An effective strategy to help manage your money better next year is to examine spending patterns.

Set goals you can live with
To make your financial resolutions easier to live with, they need to be both specific and realistic. For example, just resolving to reduce debt is so vague you may not make much progress. A clearer goal would be to earmark $100 a month to add to a credit card’s minimum payment.

Keep resolutions gentle enough so you don’t feel deprived and give up on them. If you buy lunch every workday, deciding to never spend another dollar that way is going to get old very fast. You’ll more likely stay on track if you resolve to bring your lunch from home three or four days a week but allow yourself a day or two to head for a favorite spot for a midday break with friends.

Figure out your fixed expenses such as mortgage, auto loans or rent; how much went toward necessities with variable costs, such as heating oil or electricity; and, finally, what you spent on optional items such as basketball tickets and mocha lattes. Reviewing the past year’s expenditures reveals where cuts can and can’t be made.

Get a feel for your cash position: income, obligations, assets and credit. How much total debt do you really have? Are you carrying high-cost credit card balances or multiple loans? If so, try to budget some extra funds toward paying down those debts more quickly. Or consider consolidating what you owe using your home equity, a personal loan from a lender like United Financial Credit Union, or a balance transfer to lower the interest rate.

Also, check your emergency fund. If you haven’t already set up accounts for emergency expenses, education, retirement or other personal goals, this is an excellent time to take those steps. Try to put something away regularly. Even if you can only spare $20 a week, you’ll have more than $1,000 by the end of next year.

And don’t forget to review your estate documents. Did anything in your life change? If so (and even if not), look over your wills, trusts and beneficiary designations, and make any necessary changes.

“The most common oversight I see with prospective clients is when they have children from a previous marriage and have remarried and started a new family,” Obhas said. “Their documents haven’t been updated to reflect their current marriage and leave most of the assets and decision making at death to the ex-spouse while leaving out the current spouse and children. Which needless to say, can be very problematic.”

Create your budget
Once you’ve got a snapshot of your typical spending patterns, assets, liabilities and goals, you’re ready to work up a budget. Add up your income, subtract the costs of your locked-in obligations and necessities, and create a plan for optional expenses that maximizes savings, reduces debt and still lets you feel like a human being. Try to put away enough each month to deal with cash flow issues such as bills that come due before your paycheck arrives. And don’t forget to pay yourself by stashing some cash in a savings account.

Be patient with yourself
Financial goals often take years to reach, so remember that small steps now can add up to huge changes over time. Flexibility is also crucial. If unexpected expenses arise or you splurge on something you shouldn’t have, don’t give up. As long as you keep coming back to your plan and adjusting as necessary, this New Year’s Day can mark the start of a more organized, comfortable and prosperous future.

This is Nurse Z and my best words to you are: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. We all need money today and tomorrow is not guaranteed, but more than likely, tomorrow will come (and be here sooner than you know it!) and if you have not planned for it, you could be in a worse position than today if you were broke, because you are older, have less available resources, and are more vulnerable.

It is important to us to bring you current and relevant information- News you can use....Remember, You can contact us at ClubSteppin.com or GlobalNewsForum.com where your questions will be read on the air or incorporated into the show. You can also get your service, business, or event publicized by sponsoring with us. Contact us about sponsorship packages.


References:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/11-money-moves-you-must-make-by-year-end-or-face-a-tax-hit-2014-12-11
http://www.newstimes.com/business/moneytips/article/Use-Your-Health-Insurance-Before-Year-s-End-10644206.php
3 Things Retired Clients Should Do Before Year-End | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-advisor/111716/3-things-retired-clients-should-do-yearend.asp#ixzz4Rv1z5wpr

Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet

Resources to help you save money
http://www.wisebread.com/resources has resources that can save you money and headaches. They have listed an ultimate guide to 190 of the best budgeting tools, deals & coupon sites, rate comparison engines, and personal finance resources online.