A Guide to the Hits and Misses of 2012

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Now is the perfect time to get your financial house in order in preparation for the New Year. That can include taking a serious look at your spending habits, deciding whether it's time to consider new stock options, or mapping out a plan to secure your financial future after retirement.

SEE OUR SLIDE SHOW: Fabulous Freebies 2012

Our year-end round-up of hits and misses -- from retirement savings plans to technology products to shopping deals -- will help you determine which items are worth footing the bill (or simply drain your budget) and get you on the right financial track:

Investing : Check out our best and worst picks for initial public offerings, stocks, mutual fund managers, online brokers and investment newsletters.

Online Advice : Learn which tool is best for do-it-yourself investors and financial planners, and which one you should steer clear of.

Retirement : Our favorite brokerage firm for IRAs offers a wide range of investment choices and no annual fees. Also, find out which state is tax-friendliest for retirees.

Banking and Credit : Looking for a place to stash your cash? See our best and worst money market picks.

Budgeting Sites : All budgeting sites aren't created equal. Whether you're tech-savvy or a novice, ease of use makes all the difference.

College Planning : From 529 savings plans to which major will leave students in debt most, here's the rundown.

House and Home : See which home improvement project will get you the most bang for your buck.

Shopping Deals : It's no secret that organic grocery stores are pricey, but our worst pick for savings can really drain your budget.

Technology : Check out our top picks for on-the-go Internet plans, free office software, music streaming and more.

Cars, New and Used : If you're in the market for a new vehicle, here's a look at the best and worst family sedans, midsize crossovers and more.

Airlines and Hotels : Find the frequent-flier program that easiest to earn miles, which airline has the best baggage handling record and more.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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