The holidays are fast approaching, which means turkey, friends, family and lots of shopping.
But it also means time's running out for year-end tax planning. So before you hit the stores, maybe you ought to hit the desk, just for a few minutes to see if there's things you can do now that are going to save you some serious cash next April.
For example, now's the time to clean out those closets and make some donations. You'll help others and yourself: you can only deduct what you donate before year-end.
Next focus? Retirement plans. Every dollar you put away is one you won't pay tax on. If you're younger than 50, your 401K max is $17,500. If you're older, it's $23,000. Contribute all you can, and always enough to get your max company match.
Next, look for tax credits. One example: energy efficient windows and other upgrades: Check energystar.gov to see what you can qualify for, then call a contractor.
Another idea: If you've got a high-deductible health plan, you might be able to deduct contributions to a Health Savings Account. You can contribute $3250 if you're single, $6450 if you've got a family and even more if you're 55 or older.
And probably the best idea: talk to a pro for more ideas. If you do it yourself with software, do a trial run.
Or just take a look at the deductions you took last year and see if you can beef up similar ones this year.
Bottom line... Don't wait until the last minute to look for year-end tax breaks.
Because a little time now can save you big bucks next April. What you need now is some more tips and they're waiting for you.
Just go to moneytalksnews.com and do a search for "Year End Tax Planning 2013."
For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.