Home > Personal Finance > 5 Purchases to Squeeze In Before the End of the Year

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


With only about a week to go before the end of the year, you may be thinking you’re all done shopping until 2014. However, don’t let the books close on 2013 without considering these last-minute purchases.

1. Make your health insurance plan official

If you signed up for health insurance through one of the government exchanges, the clock is ticking for you to make your plan official.

Originally, all policies were requiring the first month’s premium payment by Dec. 31 in order for coverage to begin on Jan. 1. However, some insurers have extended the deadline to Jan. 10. Check with your health insurance company to be sure.

And if you haven’t already found a plan, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day may be a good, down week to check out HealthCare.gov or otherwise research your options. While you have until March 31 to enroll in a plan through the government exchanges, life is bound to get busy again once we roll into 2014.

2. Buy that car, boat or other large toy

Have your eye on a new ride? You might want to hop to it. Not only do some auto manufacturers issue year-end rebates and incentives to clear out older models, salespeople might be motivated to wheel and deal as they try to meet their monthly sales quotas or goals.

Perhaps even more important is that the sales tax deduction could be going away in 2014. Right now, you can deduct either your state and local income taxes or sales tax on your federal income tax form. However, the sales tax deduction is sunsetting this year, which means you may want to make your large purchase – whether it is a car, boat or manufactured house – now so you can get the deduction. Of course, Congress could decide to extend it next year, but if it doesn’t, you’ll miss out.

Finally, you need to act quickly if you are considering an electric plug-in car such as the Ford Focus Electric or the Nissan Leaf. Tax credits of up to $7,500 for electric vehicles are also set to expire on Dec. 31.

3. Bulk up on small-business assets

For the small-business owners in the crowd, you may want to look at your equipment needs for the coming year and make whatever purchases you can now.

In 2013, small businesses can deduct up to $500,000 of the cost of assets such as software, furniture and other business equipment. The deduction is available for both new and used items, but your business must be producing a taxable income and you must put the purchase in service this year. In other words, buy it and install it ASAP.

You can still get the deduction in 2014, but it drops to a maximum of $25,000. If your budget allows and you have a major expansion on the horizon, buy what you can while the bigger deduction is available.

Small-business owners should also know that the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is another incentive set to expire in the next week. This program gives businesses tax credits of up to $9,600 for hiring qualified workers such as veterans. Hires made on or before Dec. 31 are eligible. Talk to your accountant for more details about this credit and the equipment deduction.

4. Purchase energy-efficient upgrades to your house

Since 2006, homeowners have been able to claim a $500 tax credit for making energy-efficient upgrades to their homes. The credit is equal to 10% of the cost of the building materials, so you need to spend $5,000 to receive the maximum credit. That’s not chump change, but if you were already planning to replace windows or add insulation, you might as well get some money back from Uncle Sam for it.

However, time is running out on the credit. If you haven’t already claimed your $500 in a previous tax year, you have until Dec. 31 to buy the building materials. Then, the credit is history unless Congress has second thoughts about letting it expire.

5. Invest in a budgeting tool

Last year, nearly half of Americans made financial resolutions. Those could have included getting out of debt, padding a savings account or trimming unnecessary expenses.

If you are one of those making financial resolutions, you need to invest in a system that will help you track your money and, in turn, measure your progress toward goals. And by invest, I don’t necessarily mean money. It might only take an investment of time in setting up the right system.

There are free tools available or you can certainly buy a software program like Quicken, create your own Excel spreadsheet, or even go old school with a notebook and pen. What’s important is to have something in place before the 2014 bills start piling up.

As the saying goes, money talks. But without a financial plan, the only thing it will say to you is “You’re broke.” Make it a priority to purchase or sign up for a budget tool before you pop the champagne on New Year’s Eve.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.


Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team