8 Cool Money Moves to Make This Fall

How to shape up your bank account in time for the new year.

Princeton, N.J.
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Prepare for taxmageddon. Unless Congress acts soon, a handful of tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, which means almost all Americans will experience tax increases. The average increase per household is expected to be $3,800. That means anyone with the flexibility to bring more income into 2012 instead of leaving it for 2013 could benefit from doing so.

[See Taxmageddon: What You Need to Know.]

Moneylicious.org author and blogger Ornella Grosz recommends that taxpayers with investment losses realize those losses this year (by selling their losing equities before the end of the year). Up to $3,000 in losses can be claimed as a tax deduction.

Thakor adds that you can also "harvest" losses by selling securities that have lost money and then buying them back 31 days later. That way, you still hold the same securities, but you can lock in the loss to help reduce your tax bill.

For those who face unique tax situations, such as small-business owners, the wealthy, or anyone with hefty investment assets, talking to a tax professional should also be on the fall to-do list, says Weston, especially since so many tax breaks are set to expire at the end of the year. 

Funnel more money into retirement accounts. "Regardless of what else is happening in your financial world, you need to be putting money into those retirement accounts," says Weston. You can contribute up to $17,000 to your 401(k) in 2012; for those 50 or older, the limit is $22,500. (You can contribute up to the 2012 limit until April 15, 2013.)

Get busy in the kitchen. Consumer-savings expert with SurfMyAds.com (and self-described "amateur foodie") Sarah Platte suggests making the most of summer produce, especially any that came from your own garden, by canning tomatoes and berries. (Just be sure to avoid botulism by practicing proper canning procedures.)

Do you have any other fall money tips to share?