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Curing The Financial FLU

Here's how to make sure you are on the upper end of that range:

  1. Compare savings account rates. The range of rates being offered is very wide. Shop around to make sure the rate you get is competitive.
  2. Consider an online bank. On the whole, online banks offer higher rates than traditional banks.

Underutilized retirement plans

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, there are millions of Americans who are eligible to participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans, yet fail to do so. And of course, many who do participate fail to contribute the maximum allowable amount, let alone max out their IRA contributions. This means leaving money on the table, in the form of tax advantages, and sometimes, employer matching contributions.

These are some suggestions for strengthening your retirement fund:

  1. Adjust your payroll deduction to put as much as you can afford into your employer-sponsored plan. If your employer has a match or partial match on a certain level of contributions, make sure you are contributing at least enough to take full advantage of that match.
  2. Make full use of IRA plans. If you didn't maximize your IRA contribution in 2012, you can still do so between now and April 15, 2013, and still make an additional contribution for the 2013 tax year. Be aware that if you are over 50, you can probably contribute $1,000 more than the standard limit.

Here's hoping you stay free from influenza this season -- and steer clear of the financial FLU for good.

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