Making money: Staying on track for tax season, and more

3 top pieces of financial advice — from navigating health club contracts to earning more in 2013

For some gyms, once you commit, there's no turning back.
(Image credit: Thinkstock)

Navigating health club contracts

If you're joining a health club this year, mind the pitfalls in the contract, said Caroline Mayer in Forbes. Start by familiarizing yourself with your local consumer protection laws; gym members usually have three days to back out of contracts after signing. Also, if you become temporarily disabled — say, with a broken arm — you can often place a temporary hold on your membership. But the real trick is to read the fine print. Get a copy of the club's cancelation policies in writing, and consider a month-to-month membership instead of a long-term contract. "Don't just go in and sign where they tell you to sign," said Kathryn H. Silcox, deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania. "Know what you're getting into."

Stay on track for tax season

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You'll save yourself woe in April by thinking about your taxes in February, said Eva Rosenberg at MarketWatch. If you haven't received your W-2 or 1099s by now, track them down, especially if you've changed addresses. If you think you may have been a victim of identity fraud, contact the IRS for an "Identity Protection PIN," which will ensure that only you can file a tax return using your Social Security number. Start separating personal and business spending to make preparing your tax return easy, and set up a filing system — ideally a spreadsheet — to keep your data organized. If you may owe money to the IRS, set up an account now through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System so you can "pay all federal taxes, without a fee, directly from your bank account."

Earning more in 2013

Workplace experts say 2013 will bring big opportunities to boost your paycheck, said Farnoosh Torabi at Yahoo. Businesses are increasingly seeking talent outside their firms, so if you're looking for a raise or promotion, it might be time to jump ship. You can improve your odds by searching for jobs at companies that are in growth mode. If you have to search job boards, try to stick to industry-specific sites. "Employers say niche sites are a better way to connect with qualified candidates." And don't forget to build your own brand. Nearly 40 percent of companies screen candidates through social media, so get your name out there with social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Finally, network. One third of hires still come from referrals, so work every angle and connect with as many people as you can.

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Sergio Hernandez is business editor of The Week's print edition. He has previously worked for The DailyProPublica, the Village Voice, and Gawker.