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It feels a bit like cheating, but my year end advice hasn't changed too much:

1) If you don't itemize your deductions, donate some of your RMD to charity (last chance).

2) If you are in a lower bracket this year than you will be next year, or at retirement, convert some of your pre-tax IRA money to a Roth IRA. (see Fairmark for tax rates)

3) Bump your 401(k) deduction to boost your savings. (Max contribution is $15,500 on '08)

4) Check the expenses within your 401(k). I saw an interview with John Bogle and read the transcript regarding the high expenses within 401(k) accounts. Then, I was told that he was working off old data. Now, the recent issue of Forbes, the 2007 investment guide, talks again about this very problem. In 401(k) ripoff, I discussed the fees that are high enough to have me advise staying clear of the 401(k) account altogether, but for now, check those fees.

5) If you have some cash you can invest consider an IRA deposit before year end, even if you can't deduct it, the law will kick in allowing you to convert it to a Roth in 2010. You can stash $20K over the next five years, convert to a Roth, and let the money grow tax free.

6) Update your will. You do have a will don't you? My own will has one catch for my beneficiaries. They must produce an executed will to collect their inheritance. I figure that's not too tough a demand. I won't even suggest where they leave it, a friend, a charity, their choice. Accidents happen, people die. Get a will.


7) Review your stock for losses you may wish to take (up to $3,000 may be used against ordinary income) or to accelerate taking of gains if you have larges losses.

8) You are richer than you think. Pop quiz - the person in the world who makes the median income (i.e. half the world makes more, half, less) brings home how much per year?
Give up? $850!! If you make $40,000/yr only 3% of the people in the world make more than you. See Global Rich List for details.


9) Now that you're feeling so rich, think about finding a new charity. I recently received a appeal from the founder of Women of Means, a non-profit which provides health care to women who are homeless or marginally housed in the Greater Boston area. Also see New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans - this shelter does work for a good cause. (I'd be happy to find them one new donor this season)


Next month - "Can you save too much pre-tax?" HAPPY NEW YEAR!