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Three ways to spring clean your finances

By Tali Yahalom and Susie Poppick, Money magazine


(MONEY Magazine) -- 1. Sell your old tech

Why: Selling a used gadget can subsidize the cost of a new one. An 80GB iPod Classic (circa 2005) fetches $100-plus on eBay, for example, nearly half the price of the current model.

What to do: Delete personal data and, ideally, the original accessories. You can get a price quote for your gadget on the website of a reseller such as Gazelle or BuyMyTronics, and you'll get paid accordingly once you mail the item in. Or shoot for bigger bucks by listing your device on eBay or Craigslist. Set up a PayPal account, and you'll be credited with your dough as soon as a sale is made.

2. Reclaim your desk

Why: Plowing through that Kilimanjaro-size paper pile at tax time wasn't fun.

What to do: Sort the mountain into three piles: file, shred, and deduct (see Publication 552 at www.irs.gov for a checklist of which financial documents you need to keep and for how long).

Find some receipts that might have helped you lower your 2010 taxes? File an amended return.

3. Lighten your wallet

Why: The average American holds five credit cards, not including retail and gas cards, says industry newsletter The Nilson Report. That many can tempt you to overspend.

What to do: You probably don't need more than two cards, says Ben Woolsey of CreditCards.com: one that offers juicy rewards and one that has a low interest rate (in case you run a balance).

Cancel cards you've had for fewer than five years. Canceling cards you've had for longer may hurt your credit score -- and thanks to 2009's Federal CARD act, you won't get hit with inactivity fees. So pay them off and stick 'em in a drawer.  To top of page

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