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Mellody 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.

TOM: Happy New Year, Mellody!

MELLODY:  Same to you, Tom!

TOM: This morning you are going to give us a few things to keep in mind so we start off the new year on a positive note.

Mellody: That’s right, Tom! Every time we turn the page on another year, it is always good to keep a few things in mind. Some of these things, like taxes, come like clockwork. Others are good to pay attention to in order to get in the right headspace and lay the groundwork to improve your financial footing.

Tom: So let’s start with the thing you can’t change: taxes.

Mellody: As you said, you cannot change the fact that you have to deal with taxes, but there are some things that you can do to make them less painful. First, you heard me say it a thousand times: organization is key to doing your taxes. Print out a checklist from one of the many tax preparation sites so you know what you need, and determine which forms you should use. January is also the month that important documents start getting mailed – w2s, 1099s – so be on the lookout so you do not throw any of this away!

A couple of things to pay attention this April on your 2014 taxes: first, if you do all or some of your work from home, you should look into the home office deduction. The rules for this deduction have been loosened, and you can save up to $1500. The main condition is that the space must be used exclusively as a home office. Secondly, if you did not have healthcare coverage in 2014, you will have to pay a fee when you do your taxes this year, and that fee will get higher in 2015 and 2016. And finally, just like every other year, remember to file on time to avoid any late fees and penalties.

Tom: What should we think about in terms of our 2015 finances?

Mellody: Well, Tom, right now is a great time to set financial goals for yourself and create a plan to achieve them if you have not already done so. A recent survey found that only 3 in 5 Americans are doing this. Setting goals for your money helps you to stay on track and be more aware of your day to day habits and limitations, so I encourage our listeners to set goals if they have not already, and to revisit them if they already have.

Money Mondays: Getting The Right Financial Start To The New Year  was originally published on

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