Key dates to bookmark for the year ahead. By Jessica L. Anderson, Associate Editor December 7, 2009 JANUARY1 -- Parents of college-bound high school seniors: Fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 4 -- First trading day of 2010. 7 -- Set financial goals, update your budget and resolve to pay off holiday debt (see "Four Ways to Trim Your Spending"). 8 -- Convert traditional IRA to a Roth; income limits for conversions are gone. 15 -- Estimated federal taxes for the fourth quarter of 2009 are due. 20 -- Consult with a financial planner: Your Money Bus stops in Greensboro, N.C. 21 -- Seniors: If you’re over 70½, talk to your IRA administrators about resuming regular required minimum distribution payments. Advertisement 26 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. FEBRUARY 2 -- Think taxes: Your 1098, 1099 and W-2 statements should arrive by today. Finish gathering tax documents and put them in a folder for later. 4 -- Your Money Bus stops in Charleston, S.C. 7 -- Billions of dollars in bets will be riding on Super Bowl XLIV. Advertisement 12 -- Investors: Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has gone down 15 of the past 18 years on the day before Presidents Day weekend. You could pick up some cheap shares. 15 -- Presidents Day. Before you hit the sales, take our quiz to find out what kind of spender you are. 22 -- New credit-card rules go into effect. 22 -- Your Money Bus stops in Palm Beach, Fla. Advertisement MARCH 1 -- Shoulder season starts today and runs through May. Look for bargains on travel. 3 -- Keep an eye out for proxy forms. They’ll let you vote on shareholder issues without being present at the annual meeting. 6 -- Think taxes: Assign value to stuff you donated to charity if you itemize deductions. 9 -- Your Money Bus stops in Birmingham, Ala. Advertisement 14 -- Daylight Savings Time begins. Spring forward. 15 -- Deadline to empty your 2009 health-care flexible spending account (if your plan allows the 2½-month grace period). 16 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. 19 -- Triple Witching Day for the stock market: Contracts for stock-index futures, stock-index options and stock options all expire together. Brace for volatile trading. APRIL 1 -- It’s Financial Literacy Month. Take the Kiplinger quiz on your financial know-how. 1 -- Seniors: Deadline for taking your first required minimum distribution from IRAs and other retirement accounts. 2 -- Your Money Bus stops in Cleveland. 3 -- Prepare your income-tax return this weekend. 12 -- First-quarter earnings announcements for the Dow Jones industrials begin with Alcoa. 15 -- File your tax return or request an extension. Estimated federal taxes for the first quarter are due. 16 -- Expect a big tax refund? Adjust your withholding. 22 -- Earth Day. Save money and the planet by switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. 27 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. MAY 1 -- Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, in Omaha. Treasury announces semiannual I-bond rates. 2 -- Mother’s Day is May 9. Find a gift deal at www.dodtracker.com. 6 -- Your Money Bus stops in Fort Worth. 11 -- Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Glacier National Park. A visit to one of the 58 national parks is a great idea for an inexpensive summer getaway. 12 -- Book a tune-up for your air-conditioning or sprinkler system before summer sets in. 19 -- Start planning your summer vacation (use a booking site such as Kayak.com). 27 -- College-bound high school grads: Complete student-loan applications, including those for federal Stafford loans and federal PLUS loans for parents. 30 -- Use your tax refund to pay down credit-card balances or seed an emergency fund. JUNE 1 -- Investors: The stock market historically dips the week after Memorial Day. Look for cheap buys. 3 -- Your Money Bus stops in San Diego. 7 -- Recent college grads: Consolidate student loans. Make a money-smart plan for what to do with your graduation cash (start an IRA, create an emergency fund). 12 -- Shop for Father’s Day on June 20. 15 -- Estimated federal taxes for the second quarter are due. 17 -- Your Money Bus stops in Portland, Ore. 21 -- Investors: Dow down 17 of the past 19 years—don’t sell this week. 22 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. JULY 2 -- Midyear financial checkup: Update the goals you set in January and rebalance your portfolio, if necessary. 4 -- Independence Day. Break free from debt by tallying up what you owe and making a plan to pay it off. 7 -- Your Money Bus stops in Colorado Springs. 12 -- Second-quarter earnings announcements for the Dow Jones industrials begin with Alcoa. 21 -- Reshop your auto insurance (www.insweb.com), homeowners coverage (www.accucoverage.com) and life insurance (www.accuquote.com). 26 -- If you’re over 50, find out about long-term-care insurance: Take our quiz to learn more. AUGUST 1 -- Shop early for an end-of-the-model-year car deal. You’ll get the best combination of price and selection as dealers clear inventory. 3 -- This is the month for statewide sales-tax holidays for back-to-school shopping. Find out whether your state has one. 5 -- Your Money Bus stops in Omaha. 9 -- Investors: Prepare to hunker down. From 1988 to 2005, August was the worst month for the Dow and the S&P 500. 10 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. 24 -- Investors: Look for the market to gain strength. The end of the month has been strong for the past five years. 26 -- Renegotiate the rate on your credit card. SEPTEMBER 1 -- Fall marks open-enrollment season for employer health-insurance plans. Review your options, even if you can keep the same coverage. 2 -- Start scouting for deals for holiday travel. Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly, with the exception of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 3 -- Investors: Watch for stock-market instability. Triple-digit Dow moves are commonplace leading up to Labor Day. 9 -- Your Money Bus stops in Milwaukee. 15 -- Estimated tax payments for the third quarter are due. Deadline for submitting corrections to your FAFSA. 21 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. 30 -- Your Money Bus stops in Washington, D.C. OCTOBER 1 -- If you’re self-employed, deadline to establish a Simple IRA. 2 -- Financial Fitness Workshop, in New York City. 7 -- Third-quarter earnings announcements for the Dow Jones industrials begin with Alcoa. 8 -- If you’ve lost money on a Roth IRA conversion, you can still recharacterize. Contact your Roth sponsor ASAP. 15 -- Deadline to file your tax return if you requested an extension in April. 21 -- Get Smart About Credit Day. Buy your FICO scores at www.myfico.com. 22 -- Investors: Look for good buys on depressed stocks; October has marked the end of 11 post–World War II bear markets. NOVEMBER 1 -- Treasury announces semiannual I-bond rates. Buy candy on the cheap after Halloween. 2 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. 7 -- Daylight Savings Time ends. 8 -- New college grads: First student-loan payments are due this month. 15 -- Open enrollment begins for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans, and continues through December 31. (See "Choose the Right Medicare Plan for Your Needs".) 17 -- Investors: Time to sell? The Dow has been up 13 of the past 16 years in the week before Thanksgiving. 24 -- Log on to www.gottadeal.com to plan your Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping strategy. 29 -- Cyber Monday: Save on sales at most online retailers. DECEMBER 1 -- Investors: Before you buy a mutual fund in a taxable account, check the fund’s Web site for its ex-dividend date and purchase shares after that date to avoid a tax bill. 5 -- Make year-end donations to a charity or your alma mater and lock in a tax deduction (see "Five Ways to Check a Charity"). 13 -- End of 2010 is your last chance to make energy-efficient home improvements and get a 30% tax credit up to $1,500 (deadline: December 31). 14 -- Federal Open Market Committee meets to review interest rates. 18 -- Best time of the year to buy a computer—deals range from 15% to 50% off, or you could score a free printer or software package. 31 -- Deadline for taking annual required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts, setting up a solo 401(k) plan and enrolling in a Medicare prescription-drug plan.