Money Must-Dos By End-of-Year

stethoscope_piggyIt happens every fall—all the little money chores you meant to tackle in the past year have now piled into a heap on top of your desk. Luckily, you have three whole months until 2010 ends—plenty of time to make smart choices that will pay off now and into 2011.

  1. Empty your flexible-spending account. In many cases those FSA funds are use-'em-or-lose-'em… so use 'em! Schedule doctors' appointments; submit receipts; double check whether you can pre-pay some 2011 expenses and which surprise purchases may be covered (sunscreen, cold medicine).
  2. Consider a Roth IRA conversion. You've been tempted to convert to a Roth for the tax advantages down the line—but dreading how you'd handle the tax bill now. Good news: if you convert before the end of 2010, you can defer paying half the taxes owed until 2011—and the other half in 2012, says financial planner David McPherson, of Four Ponds Financial.
  3. Set your holiday budget. Gifts, travel, parties—it all adds up. Avoid a painful holiday hangover by taking control now. Discuss gift policies with family and friends. Add up likely expenses—and budget an extra 10% for the unexpected.
  4. Grab expiring energy tax breaks. Right now generous energy tax credits for certain home improvements expire in about 84 days. Act fast!
Warm up. How will you get the most of your money by year's end?