Banking, Investments, Taxes

We've just reviewed your spending, retirement, insurance, and debt. Now let's move on to the second part of our financial checkup.

Evaluate your bank
Your financial life depends on money pumping in and out, in and out -- being efficiently delivered to all the right places. That, of course, is regulated by your cash flow organ: your bank account.

  • Add up your ATM charges to see how much that convenience has cost you over the past year. Then start using your checks and/or debit cards more often so you can line your pockets instead of the bank's.

  • If you're able to navigate the Web, consider turning to Internet banking. You can earn interest on your checking account, download transactions into Quicken or Microsoft Money, and save yourself some hassle. It also makes tracking your expenses and monitoring your budget infinitely easier.


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Explore your investments
Your portfolio is the reproductive system of your financial body. Is yours optimally positioned to multiply?


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Take on your taxes
Everyone has to do it, but it isn't very pleasant. Enough said.

  • Run a preliminary income tax return to see if additional deductions might reduce your tax bill (e.g., increase charitable contributions before December 31). And think of Foolanthropy while you're at it. If you find yourself on the delicate cusp between a lower tax bracket and a higher one, postpone your bonus/income to the next year to save on your tax bill. Remember: The cusp you save might be your own. Check out this article for more year-end tax-planning tips.

  • A lot of changes were made to the tax code this year. Investigate ways to make the tax cut work for you.

  • Up to $3,000 of a net capital loss can be used each year to offset ordinary income. Any net loss greater than $3,000 can be carried forward to the next year. If that applies to you, don't forget to use those losses this year to offset capital gains or income.

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As we conclude this checkup, we have two more things for you. No, not lollipops. A printable checklist to accompany this checkup and a list of discussion boards full of Fools confronting real-life, health-related issues. After all, you are your greatest investment.

Next: Printable Checklist »


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