Do These 4 Things Before 2012 Begins

December is a busy month. It’s also your final opportunity to make sure you’ve done all you can this year to maximize your finances next year.

The following suggestions are pulled from Money Thinking, The Motley Fool, and the Vanguard Group. Want to know even more? Click on each site’s link to read their full story.

1. Save up. 

If you have an IRA, you have until next April 15 to contribute the maximum amount. If you have a 401(k), contributions must be done by the end of the calendar year. If you have both and you’re working with limited funds this month — put the money into your 401(k) — especially if your employer matches your 401(k) contribution.

2. Flex your financial muscles.

If you are taking advantage of a flexible spending accounts —employer-sponsored benefits that let you put money aside to spend on medical needs on a pre-tax basis. Check to see if the money in your account rolls over. If it’s “use it or lose it,” think about getting that check-up, or a back up pair of glasses.

3. Review your credit history. 

If you haven’t used your free credit report this year, now’s the time. Check the report carefully for discrepancies, missing corrections, or anything that seems odd. Contact the credit agency for any questions you have. If you can address anything on your report — from getting an item corrected to paying off a debt or consolidating loans — do it now.

4. April 15th isn’t that far away.

It’s not too early to start thinking about 2011 taxes. You might still be able to take advantage of tax-loss selling or front-loading deductible items into 2011 to save on your taxes next spring. At the very least, beginning to organize your paperwork will make your life easier when tax day arrives.

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