Meridian Star

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January 9, 2010

Some financial new year’s resolutions

Okay. It’s that time of year - the time for New Year’s resolutions. They can include financial resolutions. Here are some possibilities for 2010.

Control non-mortgage debt. Experian says the average American carries about $17,000 in debt unrelated to home loans. Too much of this is simply credit card debt. So how about paying down, paying off and maybe getting rid of some cards?

How much financial ground can you lose to plastic? Well, if you have a credit card with a $17,000 balance and 10% APR and you pay $200 monthly on it, it will take you 12 years to pay it off.

You may have so-called “good debts” as a consequence of your business or your professional career. Yet ultimately, debt is debt. You can certainly plan to build wealth and control debt at the same time, and why not plan to do both?

Play catch-up if you’re older than 50. Everyone over 50 have the chance to make a catch-up contribution to our IRAs and 401(k)s. If you have a 401(k), you can defer up to $22,000 of your 2010 salary into it if you’re over 50 (an extra $5,500 above the usual limit). You also have the chance to contribute an extra $1,000 to your IRA (or among multiple IRAs if you have more than one). And if you’ve got an IRA, there’s no point in waiting until April 15, 2011 to make your 2010 contribution – if you wait that long, you’ll potentially lose 15 months of interest.

Look into the possibility of a Roth IRA conversion. 2010 presents investors with a prime opportunity to convert traditional IRAs into Roths. The IRS has removed the income limitations on Roth conversions this year, and it will let you spread the taxes due on a 2010 Roth conversion across 2011 and 2012. However, you should definitely talk to a tax professional before you make this move. As income tax rates could be raised for 2011 or 2012, you may want to take the tax hit on a Roth conversion in 2010 instead.

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