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Originally published Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Diversify your stock mix and reorganize your portfolio into fewer accounts to cut costs. ...

Use your computer to keep your budget in line. Try one of the personal financial-management programs available, such as Quicken or Microsoft Money.

Diversify your stock mix and reorganize your portfolio into fewer accounts to cut costs.

Investing in stocks should not necessarily be your first priority if you carry a lot of debt. Make sure the return on that investment is higher than the cost of carrying the debt. If it isn't, you should pay down the debt before using that extra cash to invest.

Limit or eliminate credit-card debt. One way is to transfer balances to cards with lower rates.

The "laddering" of certificates of deposit can give you a good return on your savings while still providing access to the cash in an emergency. Buy a series of one-year, two-year, three-year and four-year CDs at the same time, then annually exchange the CDs for new four-year CDs as they mature. You could end up with the higher rates of four-year CDs. But one CD would mature each year — handy if you need cash.

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