Contribute to an individual retirement account . This tip won't stretch your dollars now, because contributions to a Roth IRA aren't tax deductible. You'll be glad you did it, though, because the money comes out tax-free in retirement. You can contribute up to $5,500 in 2013 ($6,500 if you're 50 or over). Your ability to contribute begins to phase out at $178,000 in incomefor married couples or $112,000 for singles. If you make too much to contribute to a Roth directly, however, you can use the "back door" by contributing to a traditional IRA then convert it to a Roth, since income limits on conversions have been erased. You may owe taxes on the conversion, and those could be substantial if you have a lot of other money in regular IRAs, so check with a tax professional first.


Cut your TV/Internet/phone bills. Communications providers are like bad lovers. They make all kinds of promises, then stick you with big bills. These companies are also jealous of the competition, and you can use that to your advantage. Look for ads or offers from competitors and ask your current providers to match them. Chances are good you'll be offered some kind of discount to stay; play hard to get and the offer may get even better. Or you can just switch and enjoy cheaper service for a while. Just make sure to note on your calendar when the "teaser" offers end, so you can start another round of negotiations.


Create your holiday budget. Gifts, decorations, entertaining, fancy clothes and holiday travel can add up fast. Get a handle on the season early by sketching out a budget that includes each of these categories. Break down your gift list by recipient, and decide how much you'll spend on each. Keep this list with you to remind you of your plan.


Reuse, repurpose, recycle (and regift?). December is focused on getting presents -- yet many of us are already drowning in stuff. Millions of people rent storage lockers to store their excess. Maybe it's time to take a breather. Rather than buying new, ask yourself if you can borrow it, find it used, repurpose something you already have or simply do without.

Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.

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