Santa has finished with his annual checklist. Now it's time we make ours.
As the year winds down, there's still plenty to do before we ring in a new year.
The website Money Talks News offers "13 Smart Things to Do Before Year-end."
We've sampled a few and thrown in some ideas of our own.
- Clear clutter. Pick a room or closet and spend a few minutes to an hour just going through old stuff. Get rid of the things you don't need. Donate clothes to a local charity of choice. It could spell a deduction come tax time. And garbage, well, throw it away. Recycle when possible. We too often occupy space with old junk we're attached to. And while some things have legitimate sentimental value, the rest we can and should part with.
- Start a Christmas account. Holidays hit you hard? Many banks and credit unions offer an interest-bearing Christmas club account. They'll set aside your money for you each week or month, and by holiday season next year, you'll have some play money. Spend it on holiday shopping, or just have a nice little bonus for yourself.
- Support a charity. Charitable giving is always up this time of year. It's also a good way to squeeze in another tax credit. We often remember the less fortunate during the holidays and forget about them the rest of the year. If you're into New Year's resolutions, here's a good one to start with.
- Change important passwords. We maintain a lot of personal information with not-so-cryptic and short passwords. Want a more specific hint on this? Don't use your anniversary or loved ones' birthdays. A less-than-skilled hacker could probably crack that code. Create a password with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters. And don't worry. You don't need to create some confusing password you have to write on your hand to recall. Length is the key.
- Print photos. In a world that's taken everything digital, we take photos with our phones and digital cameras and often forget to turn them into something we can touch and put into a photo album or traditional picture frame. Send those digital copies off for prints and start the new year off by filling picture frames or scrapbooks. Save the digital copies on CDs or a flash drive, and you can finally clear those hundreds of pictures from your camera's memory card.
- Make your own list. Don't limit yourself to ours. There's plenty to before 2012 gets its start. And it'll pass by in a blink. If you don't know the piece of mind that comes from checking things off your to-do list, try it. It'll simplify your life.