A personal finance to-do list for the year’s end
News from McClatchy Washington Bureau:

As the calendar ticks toward Dec. 31, here are some last-minute, year-end tips recommended by financial professionals:

-Do your donations: If you want a charitable deduction on this year’s taxes, you need to write that donation check by Dec. 31. Donations made on a credit card by Dec. 31 are deductible for 2012, even if you pay the Visa bill in 2013, the Internal Revenue Service says. A gift by check also counts for 2012, as long it’s mailed in December. Gifts to individuals – friends, family or strangers – are not deductible.

-Max out the 401(k): It’s a gift to yourself – a little more retirement cushion. If you haven’t maxed out the annual contribution to your 401(k) at work, do so now. For 2012, the annual contribution limit is $ 17,000; next year, the annual limit goes up to $ 17,500. If you’re over age 50, you can make an additional catch-up contribution this year of $ 5,500.

-Ditto for your IRA: To boost your retirement savings, don’t forget your IRA contributions. In 2012, the maximum contribution to IRAs and Roth IRAs is the smaller of $ 5,000 or your taxable compensation for the year. For those age 50 or older, the limit is $ 6,000.

If you’re not covered by a retirement plan at work, you can get a full tax deduction for IRA contributions. If covered by an employer’s retirement plan, you can take a deduction up to certain income limits (i…………… continues on McClatchy Washington Bureau

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Personal Finance Tips for 2013
News from Newser:

(Newser) – The Wall Street Journal has some “smart money” tips on how to save in 2013:

  • Stop eating out: That $ 10 sandwich you ate for lunch today would have cost $ 2 if you made it at home. Unless you earn $ 96 an hour after taxes, then you should think about eating out less often. WSJ suggests you try “homemade month,” 30 days of making every single meal in your own kitchen.
  • Time to haggle: Getting serious with some customer service reps could help you cut costs every single year. Calling up your phone or cable company and haggling on that $ 200 per month bill might be a pain, but there’s a chance you’ll get a better deal.
  • Turn to Craigslist: Take a look at your attic or basement and get ready to hold an at-home auction. You can make a pretty penny getting rid of your old electronics and home goods on sites like eBay and Craigslist. An added bonus: Eliminating clutter can reduce stress.
  • Investments: Once you’ve saved up all that money, think hard about where yo…………… continues on Newser

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