Action Plan: key planning dates for November

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November seems to come more quickly every year.

And if you’re not prepared, the holiday season can put a real strain on your wallet. Impulse buys and last-minute shipping can destroy the best laid plans.

Here are some tips and key dates to remember to help maximize your savings, and minimize your financial pain come 2012.

NOVEMBER

5: Bank Transfer Day – A sign of mounting frustration with bank fees, “Bank Transfer Day” is a campaign that’s largely been organized on Facebook. It calls for customers to withdraw their money from major banking institutions and put it in credit unions and local banks. Unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement, it’s encouraging people to do so without signs or public protest.

Whatever your views, you might use the day to assess if you’re getting the most from your bank.

6: Daylight savings time ends – It’s time to fall backward. As you reset your clocks, use the annual ritual to check the batteries in any home fire alarms.

24: Thanksgiving – If you’re entertaining during the holidays, be smart about it. Take advantage of online coupon codes, daily-deal coupon sites, and follow stores on Facebook and Twitter so you can get a heads up about any time-sensitive deals being offered in the weeks ahead.

25: Black Friday – Do your homework. As doorbusters and other Black Friday deals start to hit your radar, don’t assume they’re all great bargains.

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Also keep in mind:

? Use credit wisely – If you’ve had a credit card for several years, do you know what interest rate you’re currently paying? Before you start building a balance from holiday spending, take stock of your credit cards. Should you transfer a balance to a new card to save on interest? Explore your options on sites like www.bankrate.com and www.cardhub.com .

? Year-end tax moves – Take steps to lower your tax bill for 2011; e.g., consider what charitable contributions you may be able to make, max out your contributions to your retirement accounts. Run an Internet search of “year-end tax moves” for a range of ideas to look into.

? Student loans – The grace period for May graduates is coming to an end. Those still looking for employment may want to investigate their options to defer payments.

? Layaway programs – More retailers are bringing back layaway programs. Before you sign up, make sure you read the store’s rules. You don’t want to be surprised that the layaway is cancelled if you miss a payment.