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5 Money Mistakes You Need to Fix Now

Address these common financial oversights or it'll cost you

5 Basic Financial Mistakes

Dan Saelinger

Money mistakes can happen at any time. Here are 5 tips to help you fix them.

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1. Savings Bonds

The Mistake: You lose track of matured U.S. savings bonds. These are basically interest-free loans to your Uncle Sam.

The Fix: Cash in those bonds at maturity, and put that money to work elsewhere for a better return.

2. Joint Account With Children

The Mistake: You make your child a joint owner of your bank account. A co-owner is free to spend the money however he or she wants.

The Fix: Limit possible damage by keeping only enough cash in a joint account to handle day-to-day bills; keep your life savings elsewhere.

3. Your Beneficiaries

The Mistake: You forget to change beneficiaries, potentially leaving assets to the wrong heirs. Spouses are entitled to 401(k)s and pensions, unless they opt out.

See also: How to financially protect your spouse

The Fix: Update beneficiary forms. A will won't override the rights of an ex-spouse named on the forms. Don't forget to name secondary beneficiaries.

4. IRA

The Mistake: You make late IRA contributions. An investor contributing $5,000 each January, instead of April, could end up with $12,600 more after 20 years.

The Fix: Get in the habit of making annual contributions in January. An investor at 50 or older can put away a maximum of $6,500 in an IRA.

5. Tax-Deferred Contributions

The Mistake: You drop the ball on "catch-up" contributions to tax-deferred accounts. At 50 or older you can add an extra $5,500 a year to a 401(k).

The Fix: Bump up your contribution rate. That will lower your annual tax bill, reduce how much money you have to spend, and boost total savings at retirement.

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