Internet resources for last-minute planning

Thinking ahead may not be in your financial vocabulary. While it should be, there are resources for those who plan expensive things — retirement and education, for example — at the last minute.

Vacation planning at the last minute leads to money mistakes like overspending for flights and hotels when you ought to be checking for discounts.

This USNews.com post by Geoff Williams names the ills that overcome last-minute travelers who might have put off planning because of the expense of travel, only to pay top dollar for having waited.

“A last-minute vacation can destroy a budget, which is ironic and dispiriting if your budget is what kept you from long-range vacation planning in the first place,” he says.

Find more last-minute vacation guidance — picking “off-peak” destinations, and other shop-around advice — in this checklist at 360financialliteracy.org.

College financing at the last minute is no easy task. Still, you or your child should not be dissuaded by a perceived lack of funds. A useful post at investopedia.com suggests last-minute strategies for meeting the tuition bill. Families seeking financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — the dreaded FAFSA — where your financial assets must be declared. But key savings, such as retirement money in a 401(k) or IRA don’t count, so you do yourself a favor, now and in the future, by shifting funds to such accounts.

Retirement saving at the last minute? Of course you should have done something earlier, but if you simply didn’t, there are things you can do, short of dumping a fortune into lottery tickets, to scramble for a modicum of retirement. Brian Perry at Bankrate.com outlines some of the steps.

For example, the Internal Revenue Service has “catch-up provisions that allow individuals over the age of 50 to contribute extra money to individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s,” Perry writes in this post. Of course, if you’re going to suddenly save like crazy, the money will have to come from somewhere, so you’ll be cutting back severely on other expenses, and you probably will have to consider that any downsizing will be permanent.

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