By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are just a couple weeks to go before the book is closed on your personal fiscal year. Will your holiday season smarts show off come tax time? One financial expert is offering some tips.

In return for putting charities on your giving list, you get a smaller tax bill.

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“Your mortgage interest, as any homeowner knows, is a itemized deductible expense,” Bell says. “You can pay that January mortgage in December and then count that interest as part of your itemized homeowner expenses on Schedule A.”

Add to your 401(k) and open an IRA.

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“People know that you have until April 15th to do that,” Bell says, “but if you have some extra money, the sooner you put it into your retirement funds, the sooner it will start earning for you and your money will grow more quickly.”

Don’t let Flexible Spending Account dollars disappear at the end of the year: maybe you need some new glasses or could use a blood pressure machine. Especially if you’re paying for a college student: send in the spring semester bill now.

“If you haven’t accrued enough to claim some of the tax credits,” Bell says, “it’s a good time to push them into this current year.”

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