How to switch bank accounts
Moving your money to a different bank "can be a huge hassle," said Kristin Wong at Lifehacker. To make the process "as painless as possible," start by finding the right bank, weighing your priorities and habits against balance requirements, fees, interest rates, and proximity to ATMs and branches. Before you close your old account, check for any unposted checks or scheduled payments to avoid incurring an overdraft fee. And don't empty it right away. "Keep a small cushion in your old account until the transition is complete," just in case. If you have set up automatic payments, remember to reroute them to your new account and "contact your employer and update your direct deposit info." Once you think you've finished with your old bank, beware of "zombie accounts": Some banks reopen recently closed accounts if a deposit is made, which can restart maintenance and minimum balance fees.
Index vs. actively managed funds
Torn between actively managed and index funds? asked Michael A. Pollock at The Wall Street Journal. The good news is you don't have to choose. While "some investors swear" by one or the other, you can "combine the two types of funds to achieve specific purposes." Index funds are great for broad markets over long periods, but a skilled fund manager may be better for "less efficient market areas that don't trade as actively and are slower to react to new information." Indexes help you cash in on market rallies, while adding "a defensively minded active fund to your index holdings" can help "dial back overall volatility." Some of both may be best.
Nailing your performance review
Don't let your annual performance review "get you down," said Daniel Bortz at CNN. These meetings offer "one of the few times of the year you get to chat with your boss about your career," and you can use them to "set the stage for a big raise or promotion." Submit a one-page self-evaluation before the review to set a baseline, summing up a handful of your contributions. Then "request a real critique" to get some useful feedback. Unfortunately, "budgets are typically set by the time of the review," so don't count on a raise. But ask for "details on the salary review process to help you prep for next year." By finding out "how and when your raise was decided and who was consulted," you'll have a head start for the next review.