6 Smart Money Moves for Right Now

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2. Don't Stop Funding Your Retirement

"All you'll have beyond Social Security is what you've saved," says Mary Lacey Gibson, a financial planner in San Juan Bautista, California. Saving for retirement is critical even in tough times. After all, there are many options for funding a child's college education, but no such thing as retirement scholarships or loans. If your employer matches part or all of your 401(k) contribution, you need to take advantage of it -- now.

Hesitant to save for retirement because you worry about a possible cash crunch beyond what your emergency savings can cover? Paul Dolce, a Columbus, Ohio, certified financial planner, offers a compromise: "Contribute to a Roth IRA rather than a 401(k). What you put in won't be tax-deductible, but you can withdraw contributions in an emergency."

3. Ditch Expensive Debt

Running a credit-card balance can be a huge money drain -- especially considering today's skyrocketing interest rates. Without touching your emergency fund, pay off as much of your credit-card debt as you can, as quickly as you can, starting with the card that carries the highest interest rate. "You'd be surprised at how many people keep non-emergency cash in a checking account that earns less than 1 percent interest yet owe thousands on credit cards charging 18 percent," says Jeffrey J. Zures, an accountant and financial planner in McLean, Virginia. "If they used that money to pay off their debt, it would be like earning an 18 percent rate of return."

Continued on page 3:  4. Find Creative Ways to Trim


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