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5 purchases to squeeze in before the end of the year

You could miss out on tax credits and more if you don't make these last-minute purchases.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 24, 2013 4:09PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWith 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.


New Year celebration (© Photodisc Blue/Getty Images)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 … and hire a veteran while you're at it

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.


Here at Money Talks News, we are partial to PowerWallet, which is a free financial tool. However, 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 our name says, 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.


More on Money Talks News:

46Comments
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Manufacturing in this country is in the toilet, I think we should get a "rebate" when we buy American made "stuff"  every time.  Paid for by deducting the rebate from the Congresspersons salary.

Also, any business that brings their business "home" should get a tax break. That way money will substitute for real patriotism, loyalty and honor.  Good substitute I think, better than Greed.

Maybe then, people  will begin to understand what they have done to this country, and what they are continuing to do.  

Tax code revision is the only way to "fix" this mess.  And no one has the balls to do it.

Bigotry and Racism by the Republicans has hobbled this Country, and I plan to work against every single republican member who is running this term.  I only hope many others join me especially on the bus to Kentucky and Ohio.
Dec 24, 2013 8:42PM
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Disregard this article and buy food, guns and ammo. You will need it.
Dec 24, 2013 6:37PM
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I wonder if MSN people are advising their children to sign up for Obamacare?  Did they sign up?  I wouldn't give my information to a website like this one.  Look at Target and what happened there, and all the hoopla and worries that has caused.  Does anyone think that the Obamacare website is any different?
Dec 24, 2013 9:16PM
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Love it that the government has to bribe corporations and companies to hire us Veterans. [sarcasm]. Like I've said, the corporations and companies only "love", "honor", and/or "respect" military members and veterans when they are making money off of us.
Dec 24, 2013 6:06PM
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why is MSN telling me to sign up  for the Dear Leader's healthcare? Can you be a little less blatant about your agenda please?
Dec 24, 2013 7:06PM
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THE NEXT BLUNDER WITH HEALTH CARE WILL BE HOW TO PROVE YOU HAVE INSURANCE, AND IF THE IRS IS THE ONES TAKING MONEY FROM YOU AS A FINE THIS WILL BE SUCH A MESS. I CAN JUST SEE IT NOW ALL REFUND CHECKS WILL BE ON HOLD BECAUSE OF THIS MESS, AND THERE IS NOT ONE THING YOU CAN DO TO FINE THE IRS FOR NOT RETURNING YOUR REFUND. ITS ALL A HUGH SCAM. WHAT A F--KIN MESS. CORAVETTE
Dec 24, 2013 7:39PM
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@mks281

yep, but just don't find yourself in the need for any kind of cancer treatments after the age of 60,  cause you won't get it with Odumbocare.

Dec 24, 2013 9:31PM
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We may not have to pay for the uninsured when they go to the hospital but there is a distinct possibility there may be a taxpayer bailout for the insurance companies.  It's really getting tiresome having to pay for this administration's mistakes.
Dec 24, 2013 8:48PM
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6. go buy a bunker and go live underground

Dec 25, 2013 12:01PM
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The low information right wingers are pushing their hate agenda here.
Dec 25, 2013 5:45AM
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for starters Obama care is a name the Republicans gave it to gain political advantage there is no difference between a Republican or Democrat they did not even read the bill before it was passed. Do you honestly believe that the people that wrote it,wrote it for your benefit. They wrote it to make money for insurance companies. This is the final rape of America were all laws mean nothing when it comes to the government. There are 29 comments at the present time on this and every one of us are negative does that tell you anything? The welfare and the fringe element have signed up for this because for them it's free. I truly feel bad for our young people they will never know the America that I grew up in. There just might be one or two politicians who read this I would ask them how does it feel to know that the vast majority of educated people think your scum! (Too strong) I would hope that it is a voting political movement to restructure our government, getting rid of both the Senate and House. Restructuring the CIA and a host of other government agencies that do nothing except collect a paycheck.you're right the CIA statement is wrong they just start wars.
Dec 24, 2013 5:46PM
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Are liberals tracking Obama Claus tonight?
Dec 25, 2013 12:53AM
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LOL...#1 on the list BUY OBUMMERCARE.   MSN is full of bull chit!!!

Jan 2, 2014 11:08PM
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( type-o broke-hump )I hope they're preparing to build more prisons to house all the people that can't pay for this O'blunder Care. Like I said I make to much money but cant buy this so called care. The plan is to eliminate half the people in the US. Bring the middle class up so as to make things more harder on the people that have there own insurance in place already...so I've heard that some few million have done that already.. now trapped into paying more per month than they were!!
Dec 25, 2013 3:01AM
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This law that is going into effect is one of the biggest blunders this office in history has ever come up with, were did they get the smarties to put this together. there was no forethought  at all ,we can barely make are house payment and car let alone any thing like buy food and we are going to be forced to make a monthly payment based on what we make a year. so the IRS is involved. do you think they have enough on there plate? so the government will have to higher more workers to enforce this law. The IRS has there own problems. Health care for all? or a headache for all? 
Dec 24, 2013 9:48PM
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Oh my, the pea brain baggers are out IN FORCE tonight!!


HaHa.


You can always tell when they're worried about something a Democrat does is going to be successful, when they hit the comment sections in droves.


Don't worry baggers - keep complaining about the very thing you need. Keep voting against your best interests and see what happens.....you can't fix stupid and baggers are nothing but.

Dec 24, 2013 7:03PM
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what's wrong with you Obamadissers? The HealthCare Act helps people afford healthcare and assists the nation over all with curtailing YOU from having to pay for the uninsured when they go to the hospital.  What is it you don't understand?
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