7 financial pitfalls to avoid this fall

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    With the end of the year approaching, it can seem like everything is happening at once: school vacations, holiday travel, parties and year-end work projects that need to be tied up.

    That's why the last two months of the year can be a time when Americans neglect to take some financial steps that can save them time and money later on. Getting into good financial shape is clearly a goal that Americans aspire to, according to Merrill Edge. It found in a recent poll of what it calls "mass affluent" consumers that more than two-thirds believe they'll save more in 2016.

    Mass affluent Americans, who have investable assets of between $50,000 to $250,000, also plan to spend less and invest more next year, said Aron Levine, the head of Merrill Edge. But, he added, those goals "keep failing to translate into actions."

    "It's very challenging right now," Levine said. "The lack of retirement savings is due to some real competing priorities. Some people want to pay down debt, especially student debt. For people who have just graduated from college, their first interest is to pay down debt, and that's not a bad thing."

    But Americans often fall deeper into debt over the holidays, which makes this time of year especially important for setting a clear financial agenda. In addition, Americans face several health-care-related open-enrollment periods in November, which will require everyone from seniors to independent contractors to reassess some aspect of their financial demands in 2016.

    Read on to learn about how to avoid 7 financial pitfalls this fall.