Action Plan: Managing your money in January

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January is a time for a fresh start. Don’t get bogged down by any financial missteps you may have made this year.

To help stay on course, here are some key dates and money matters to keep an eye on.

JANUARY

1. Families with college-bound kids should complete the federal financial aid application, the FAFSA form, as soon as possible. The form can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov . Forms can also be downloaded and mailed in.

3. The first trading day of the new year. Did you do a year-end checkup on your portfolio? Consider if you need to make changes for the year ahead.

16. Volunteer your time or professional expertise for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Teaching financial literacy is one of the projects outlined on the event’s website, http://mlkday.gov .

17. IRS begins accepting 2011 tax returns under the Free File program, www.irs.gov/freefile .

31. Copies of W-2 forms for 2011 due from employers

Also keep in mind:

? If you’re expecting a tax refund, don’t procrastinate. Start getting organized so you can file as soon as you have your W-2 and any other forms you need to receive from third parties.

? Don’t let holiday returns or rebate offers linger. Be sure you take action before their deadlines.

? Concerned about the economy, taxes or your financial health in general? Then be sure to register to vote in time to participate in the 2012 presidential election cycle. If you’re not registered to vote, visit the site of the Election Assistance Commission, http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx .