5 Clark Smart money moves to make before the end of 2016

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The clock is ticking away on 2016. It’s already November and there are only two months left before we welcome in 2017!

Here are some steps you can take to make sure you’re making the right money moves as this year gets ready to come to a close.

Read more: 9 things to consider if you’re planning to retire in your 60s

Consider maxing out your 401(k)

For workers who are under 50, you can contribute a maximum of $18,000 for 2016. If you’ve crossed the 50-year-old mark, you’re allowed to make catch-up contributions to your 401(k). So instead of the $18,000 cap, you can sock away up to $24,000.

And do so you should—if you have the means—because every dollar you contribute will reduce your taxable income!

Shop for level-term life insurance

Buying what’s called ‘term life insurance’ is simple and costs practically no money at all. It’s not uncommon for a healthy 45-year old man to get a $500,000 level term policy with a coverage period of 20 years and only pay about $50 a month. The rate never changes which is why it’s called ‘level term.’

You can comparison shop at HavenLife.com, Quotacy.com, PolicyGenius.com, 1stOptionInsurance.com, AccuQuote.com or QualityTermLife.com. By shopping online, you avoid an insurance salesperson trying to up-sell you from level term coverage to whole life.

Consider a donation to get a tax deduction

If you’re planning to donate an old car this year to get a tax deduction next year, you may be wondering what kind of charities qualify.

Basically, any 501(c)(3) organization—such as a charitable, educational or religious organization—will qualify!

If in doubt, you can check online at the IRS website to see if your charity of choice qualifies. Or you can call the IRS Customer Account Services division for Tax Exempt and Government Entities at (877) 829-5500.


But beware of these caveats before you make the donation.

Get disability insurance

You’re three times more likely to become disabled than die during your working lifetime. Yet people have historically been more likely to buy life insurance, not disability insurance.

Clark now recommends that you only buy your own disability insurance policy if you make north of $200,000 a year. If you make less than $200,000 like most average Earthlings, then you want to take the group disability policy through your employer.

Get a will in place

If 2016 taught us anything, it was that you need to have a will. Who can forget the disclosure after the death of pop star Prince that he didn’t have one? That left his family having to appeal to the Minnesota state courts to figure out who would inherit what from his multi-million dollar estate.

What are the odds you don’t have a will? Best guess is that 50% of us don’t have one. For some folks, that may be OK—especially if you’re single, have nothing and own nothing. But if you do have kids, you need a will for the simple fact that if you don’t have one, the state will decide who raises your kids.

That’s the reality in the absence of any written direction from you. Ditto if you’re in a different circumstance, such as living with your partner without the benefit of marriage. In many cases, your partner will not be considered to inherit your estate unless you put it in writing.

People automatically assume that all assets would go to their spouse upon death. But it doesn’t play that way. The reality is that the law varies by state. When you die without a will, the state decides who gets what.

Fortunately, getting a will can be easy. You can get a simple will in place in about 15 minutes using the WillMaker software ($55) from Nolo.com. If you don’t like WillMaker, LegalZoom.com ($69) would be another way to get it done on the cheap.

Read more: 12 tax breaks for middle class families

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