Story By: Kelly Campbell (U.S. News)


The year is coming to an end, and with any conclusion comes a last-minute checklist. This is your final financial to-do list of 2010. With only a few days to complete these items, do not waste time getting started.

1. Fund your IRA or Roth IRA. For 2010, investors can add up to $5,000. If you’re over age 50, add an additional $1,000.

2. Maximize 401(k) contributions. For 2010, savers can add up to $16,500 to their company’s 401(k) plan. If you’re over 50, add an additional $5,500.

3. Rebalance investments. Rebalancing is selling part of what has done well and buying what has not done so well, thus selling high and buying low.

4. Review portfolio quality. Look at the rankings of the investments in your portfolio and keep the quality high. Don’t hold onto any low-quality investments.

5. Review the tax impact of your portfolio for the year. Now is the time to make any changes to offset portfolio taxes. This needs to be done in 2010 to impact your tax bill in 2011.

6. Review your financial plan. Make sure you are hitting your goals by looking at your results compared with your financial plan. If you don’t have one, complete a financial plan prior to year end.

7. Contribute to your child’s or grandchild’s 529 plan. You may be able to get a 2010 deduction from state taxes.

8. Convert your IRA to a Roth IRA. You’ll be able to pay the taxes over two tax years, 2011 and 2012.

9. Take out your minimum required distribution. If you’re over 70 1/2, you must take your MRD in this tax year. If you don’t, the penalty is 50 percent.

10. Get married. If you are planning on getting married without the hoopla, do it now to receive tax benefits.

11. Review your credit record. Check to see if you have any blemishes on your credit record. You are eligible for one free credit report a year.

12. Make an extra mortgage payment. One extra payment a year can reduce your 30-year mortgage by seven years.

13. Pay your state taxes this year. If you do, you may be able to get a deduction.

14. Calculate your net worth. Each year it is a good idea to see the value of all your assets and review your annual progress.

15. Develop your 2011 budget. Building a budget can be the best way to meet your financial goals. Putting it down on paper is the first step.

None of these items are difficult and some may not even pertain to your situation, but these friendly reminders can prove to not only put you on the right track, but keep you there.

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