5 Tips to Help You Fix Your Finances

Get a fresh start on your finances in the new year.

By Leslie Kramer, New York, New York

You don't want to start the New Year off with a financial hangover, right? That makes now the perfect time to put your money matters in order. Here are five easy ways to get in good fiscal shape.

1. Pay off a chunk of your credit card debt .
Credit cards with the highest interest rate should be paid first.

2. Update your will and your power of attorney.
This may sound morbid, but chances are your financial situation has changed. Be proactive. Consider where you want your assets to go now, rather than leaving the burden to your family and friends.

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3. Organize your tax information and financial statements.
That means your receipts, medical bills, charitable contributions and expenses. It might not be the most exciting task, but just imagine how much less stress you'll have come April!

4. Give to your favorite cause.
Not only will you feel good, but if you make a cash donation to a charity that is not a private foundation (such as The Nature Conservancy), you can donate up to 50% of your adjusted gross income and reduce your overall tax liability. Don't forget to get a receipt.

5. Invest in an IRA, if you're eligible.
It's never too early to plan for the future. You can contribute $16,500 if you're under 50, $22,000 if you're over . Okay, technically, you have until April 15 of the next year, but why not start earning a return on your investment right away?

There's a lot you can't predict about investments and finances, but one thing's for sure: The better you plan for your future, the better you'll feel about it. Now it's time for a toast: Here's to a happy and fiscally healthy New Year!

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