Welcome to the official start of the holiday season! For the rest of 2019 you’ll be giving thanks, giving gifts and giving up that commute to work for a few days to take a vacation and spend quality time with loved ones. These waning days of the year are always a little more hectic, but they’re also filled with family, friends and good cheer. And in the spirit of giving, we’d like to share a few helpful tips to keep your finances in order as you slide into the holidays.

1. GET THE HOME HOLIDAY READY

If your house is ground zero for holiday festivities, or even if you just want to be ready in case a few friends come over, you still have time to spruce up the place without breaking the bank. You can pull off a big refresh without a big budget. Check out these 10 home improvement projects under $30 to give your home a quick refresh – even your eagle-eyed in-laws will be impressed. And if you plan to ask Santa for a bigger home redo, here are some home renovations worth paying more for.

2. MAKE AN ESTATE PLAN

Now that family is at the top of mind, why not carve out some time to build your estate plan to ensure they’re all taken care of, if something was to happen to you. Our quick primer breaks down the key things you need to know about estate planning, as well as the six big steps to take. And if you’re looking for inspiration, here's how one new mom tackled the emotional journey — and what she learned along the way.

3. PLAN YOUR CHARITABLE GIVING

As you reflect on all the things you’re thankful for, also consider how much you’d like to give back. Whether you plan to donate your time, money or another resource, plan for how you want to express gratitude this year. Keep in mind, the standard deduction is $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples, which means you may not have to itemize your charitable contributions. We’ve compiled a few ways to fit charitable giving into your financial plan.

4. REVIEW YOUR MEDICARE CHOICES

If you’re receiving Medicare benefits, now is the time to revisit your plan to ensure your health needs will be taken care of next year. Open enrollment for Medicare opened Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 this year. During this time, you can switch from Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa. You can jump from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or you can switch your Medicare Part D from one prescription plan to another. If you’re enrolled and you don’t want to make any changes, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment.

5. TAKE NOTE OF YOUR PROGRESS

As 2019 winds down, you’ll hear a lot about resolutions and tips to make 2020 even better than this year. While it’s great to plan, don’t forget to look backward and behold all the progress you’ve made. This month, as you give thanks for that turkey dinner, take some time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished this year financially. Did you finally hit that emergency savings goal? Did you make a final student loan payment? Did you start saving for retirement?

When you make something routine, such as saving a little from each paycheck, it’s easy to lose track of just how far you’ve come. Celebrating your wins is just as important as setting initial goals, because it provides the momentum needed to reach even higher. After all, what’s the point of scaling a mountain if you don’t stop to take in the views during your climb?

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