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There’s still time for these smart year-end money moves

On your to-do list as 2016 winds down:

On your to-do list as 2016 winds down: Max out your 401(k) contributions before the end of the year. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / c-George

It’s hard to believe, but in weeks, 2016 will be over. You had many good intentions in January that remained just that, intentions. Don’t despair. If you didn’t hit all the items on your financial to-do list, there’s still time to achieve a few things before the new year.

  • Last-minute tax savings. If you can, “max out your 401(k) at $18,000, and if you’re 50, take advantage of the catch-up contribution,” says Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner with United Capital of New York and New Jersey in Huntington. Also, make your final charitable contributions by Dec. 31.
  • Avoid costly mistakes. “If you’re 70 1⁄2, you have to take your required minimum [retirement account] distribution before year end. If you don’t, you have a 50 percent tax penalty,” Carbonaro says.
  • Don’t leave cash on the table. Check your balances in your health care Flexible Spending Account and dependent care savings accounts. “These accounts are use-it-or-lose-it. Don’t forfeit your hard-earned money,” says Sara Stanich, president, The Stanich Group in Manhattan.
  • Don’t let credit card rewards go to waste. “Some cards’ perks are tied to the calendar year, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit,” says Sean McQuay, a credit and banking expert with NerdWallet.com.
  • Generate extra cash. Whether you need extra money for holiday spending or to pay down bills, look for opportunities to unearth cash. Katie Linendoll, a Capitol One tech expert in Manhattan, says to trade in old phones and tablets. “They could be worth a couple hundred bucks. Many internet trade-in sites and retail stores will offer gift cards and even free shipping for your old tech.”

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