How to Organize Your Finances for the New Year

If your finances were in disarray in 2013, it’s time to turn over a new leaf.

 2014 New Year sign inside light bulbs on green background
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Depending whether you're paid by an employer or you work for yourself, and whether you have a sprawling financial portfolio or just your 401(k), you may not have to spend a lot of time every month on your taxes – but checking in once in a while is a good idea.

Davis says you should also have a separate file for your tax returns from previous years, so if you don't, now's a good time to get that started. "Also, some items may need to be copied and put in other files," Davis says. "For example, education loan payments may result in a loan interest reduction. A copy of that should be in the tax folder, and a copy should be in your general loan folder."

Charity. Charity begins at home, they say, and often it begins in your overstuffed closet. If you search your home for unwanted items before the year is up, you can donate to charities like Goodwill or the Salvation Army and maximize your charitable deduction on your taxes (yes, taxes again), says Heidi Tribunella, a clinical associate professor of accounting at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.

[See: 10 Ways to Cut Your Spending This Week.]

And more proof that charity begins at home: You may want to give money to family members, says Jonathan Clements, director of financial education at Citi Personal Wealth Management. He points out that the annual gift-tax exclusion is $14,000, and if your pockets are deep enough, you can give that amount of money to as many family members as you want in 2013 without worrying about the federal gift tax. And, yes, we're back to taxes. Everything related to organizing your money, it seems, circles back to taxes.