3 Last-Minute Retirement Savings Strategies
Rebalance. the principle behind rebalancing is simple. Over the course of the year, the relative increase and decline in value of your different investments throws your allocation targets out of whack. What started as a mix of 80% stocks and 20% bonds at the beginning of the year could become more like 90/10 or 60/40. To rebalance, simply sell some of the assets that have appreciated and use the money to buy more of assets that have declined (assuming you're still sure the investment is a good one). Alternatively, a recent Vanguard study suggests a more effective approach is to redirect dividends and interest payments toward purchases that will rebalance the portfolio.
While you can get a higher return by never rebalancing, those modest gains often come with a much higher level of risk. And when you take much higher risks, you should only be satisfied with much higher returns.
Hold off on contributing. It's not often you'll hear someone say that holding a pile of excess cash is a good financial decision; this year might be an exception. If you can't contribute to a Roth, it may make sense to withhold any end-of-year retirement contributions until 2013. With taxes surely to go up, for many Americans the benefit of the corresponding tax deduction will be more valuable next year.
Matthew Malone is managing editor of RothIRA.com, where he is part of a team of editors, writers and technology experts aiming to explain and simplify the complicated world of retirement savings.