Balancing Act: To-do list will prime you for '14

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The clock is running out on 2013, and it is time to get inspired to face 2014:

• Spend health care dollars. Most health care flexible spending accounts mandate that the money you contribute be spent before year's end or you forfeit whatever remains. Don't let that money go to waste.

• Assess time off. By now, you know whether you have neglected to take time to rest and relax in 2013. The Society of Human Resource Management found employees at 61 percent of its member organizations had an average of three or more unused vacation days each year. Study the 2014 calendar to schedule vacation days now for next year.

• Network. "You never know where your best friend's cousin works or who he knows," says Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders.com, an online job-matching service for professionals. More people are hired in December and January than any other months, according to CareerBuilder.com, an online employment website.

• Max out contributions. Joseph L. Saka, director in charge of the Tax Services practice of accounting firm Berkowitz Pollack Brant in Miami, suggests you use the year end to max out your annual contributions to retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and IRAs.

• Position yourself. Now's the time to evaluate your next career move. Casandra Roache, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., life coach and founder of InspireMany.com, suggests having a conversation with your supervisor about moving up the ladder. If you are the business owner rather than employee, set business goals now to be ready for January.

• Clean out email. Declare email bankruptcy or move all email to an archive and start fresh for 2014, suggests Shani Magosky, a business/productivity coach with Vitesse Consulting in Fort Lauderdale.

• Review social media and email marketing strategies. If you don't know what online marketing efforts are working for you, now's your chance to figure it out. For anyone active on social media, it's a good time to craft an editorial calendar for 2014. Quarterly objectives and seasonality should drive customer interactions.

• Be charitable. If you've been meaning to contribute time or money to a good cause, get to it. For many charities, end-of-year fundraising is the difference between a successful year and financial hard times, and it might be your opportunity for a 2013 tax deduction.

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC; balancegal@gmail.com


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