10 Ways to Improve Your Finances Before Year-End

By Ben Steverman - 2011-12-12T16:43:49Z

Photograph by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

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Protect Your Credit

When shopping for holiday gifts, resist the temptation to get discounts that require signing up for store credit cards. These cards typically offer very low lines of credit -- some up to a mere $500 -- and "very high interest rates," with an annual rate of 26 percent common, says Adrian Nazari, founder of Credit Sesame, a consumer website. The process of simply applying for a new card can hurt your credit score since every credit inquiry counts against you. That could be particularly costly if you're going to take out or refinance a mortgage in 2012, Nazari says.