Sock it away
Higher interest rates and contribution increases in qualified retirement plans make saving a no-brainer.
By Ellen McGirt, Fortune senior writer

(Fortune Magazine) -- Take advantage of contribution increases in your qualified plans to beef up your savings. The maximum amount that workers under age 50 can contribute to their 401(k)s rose this year to $15,000, up from $14,000 last year. If you're 50 or older at any time this year, you can set aside a total of $20,000, up from $18,000 last year.

But the big news this season involves cash. It's a real asset class again. "There are hundreds of billions of dollars earning between 1 and 3 percent," says Bruce Bent, creator of the first money-market fund. "There's no reason anybody should be earning less than 4 percent."

Hunt for options for your short-term cash at bankrate.com; as of late September, the top yield was 5.27 percent from UFBdirect.com. And most discount brokerages are offering highly competitive rates for certificates of deposit and money-market accounts.

Next steps:

4. Give smarter

5. Review your health plan

6. Clean up your taxable account

7. Do a property insurance checkup

8. Check the new credits and taxes

Previous steps:

1. Rebalance your 401(k)

2. Revisit your estate plan

3. Sock it away

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Eight great year-end moves

Triple the Return on Your Savings! No Risk! (No Kidding). Until recently, most banks were paying a little over 1% interest on savings. These days, if you're not getting at least 4%, you're just not paying attention.

Save early and often. How much you put away matters more than how your investments fare. Here's how to know if you're on track. Top of page