Suze Orman's 12 Best Money Moves to Make This Year
Make just one small change each month, and by this time next year you'll be in the best financial shape of your life.
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If your employer matches employee contributions to a 401(k), sign up now. Make sure you set aside enough to qualify for the maximum company match.
By now you should have all the documents you need to complete your taxes: your W-2, 1098 (if you have a mortgage), and 1099 forms. File early, and you'll receive your refund (if you're owed one) that much sooner.
Toss old paperwork. Ditch your utility bills, pay stubs, and bank and credit card statements after 12 months unless you plan to take a tax deduction for a home office. In that case, keep those supporting documents for three years. Hold on to your tax returns indefinitely.
If you do file your taxes in April, let your return guide your next move. Earned a refund? Adjust your W-4 withholding so that money stays in your paychecks this year. Owe a penalty? Make sure you're having enough withheld.
Mortgage holders, check your homeowner's insurance. If rebuilding costs in your area have changed, you might have too much (or too little) coverage.
With graduations and weddings coming up, you're probably purchasing presents. Respect your current financial situation. No one wants you to spend money you don't have.
Confirm that your parents have the key estate documents: a will, a revocable living trust, and durable power of attorney for both healthcare and financial matters.
As your kids get ready for school, think about teaching them some new money rules. Instead of giving an allowance, try a work-for-pay setup. It's a better way to impart the value of money.
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can access your reports on file at the big-three credit bureaus—for free. See mistakes? Obtain your FICO credit score ($19.95; myfico.com).
Prepare for the unexpected. For most families, term life insurance makes sense. Find a policy at SelectQuote.com or AccuQuote.com.
Evaluate your benefits package for the coming year. If you're in good health, reduce your premiums by signing up for a plan with a higher deductible, then invest in a health savings account.
Avoid that nasty January credit card bill by paying for everything in cash this month—the surest way to start the New Year right.
Suze Orman's latest book is The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve. Submit your most-pressing money questions to Suze here.