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2. Sell some investments
Pros: Nonretirement ones, that is. If it's been a while since you've looked at your portfolio, it probably needs rebalancing anyway - so sell asset classes that you're over-weighted in (probably bonds, given the pathetic return of most stocks lately).

Selling securities that have done well locks in your gains; selling losers lets you reduce your capital-gains tax bite. You can write off $3,000 a year in investment losses and carry over the excess into future years.

Cons: You'll owe capital-gains taxes of up to 15% on an appreciated investment you've held for more than a year; if you've held it less than a year, you'll owe ordinary income tax.

NEXT: Ask the folks for a gift
Last updated August 22 2008: 12:36 PM ET
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