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Also, if you pay your January mortgage payment in December, you can deduct the interest from your taxes this year.

Finally, giving will help you save some money when April 15 rolls around. You can rack up some tax deductions by donating to any recognized charitable cause of your choice, and as long as you itemize your donations, you can claim everything from cash donations to goods to used vehicle donations. Just be sure to get a signed and dated receipt from the charity, noting the amount of your contribution — especially if you’re donating goods instead of cash.

Are there any other items that we should we think about before the year end, financially speaking?

MELLODY: Use the money in your health savings account or lose it. Many Americans often forget they have money in their pre-tax flexible spending accounts they set up as part of their health benefits plan. Some 35 million Americans are covered by these accounts, and the average person leaves $170 in their account at the end of the year, which they then forfeit. So if you have one of these accounts, go get that new pair of glasses or your humidifier now. And make sure to adjust your benefits to reflect your needs for 2016.

There are also some education-related items to keep in mind as well. First, you may qualify for a state income tax deduction by contributing to a 529 college savings plan.While every state’s 529 tax rules vary, most states will accept contributions until all account balances for the same beneficiary reach $235,000 to $412,000. Also, if you currently have a kid in college, paying the tuition for next semester now may also allow you to take advantage of education-related tax deductions, such as the American Opportunity credit, or the Lifetime Learning credit.


Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.

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Money Mondays: What You Need To Know About Your Money Before 2015 Ends  was originally published on

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