MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Top ways to save money before the end of 2012

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As 2012 comes to an end, there are some money matters you need to pay attention to. Here are the top seven things to consider before December 31 rolls around.

The first way to save money is to maximize your charitable donations. The average person donates $3000 to $4000 worth of cash and merchandise every year. You must be able to itemize your deductions and you need to keep your receipt from the organization. You can deduct cash contributions in full up to 50% of your adjusted gross income.

Don't waste your money by letting it sit in a flex spending account. Many FSA's have a use it or lose it policy and for most, that deadline is December 31. Use leftover dollars for doctors appointments, new glasses or contact solution - even infant nursing supplies are included.

If you mail a lot of items, get your stamps now. The price of mailing one first-class letter goes up one penny next month.

Got a teenager headed to college next year? Many scholarship deadlines are happening now. The bigger the scholarship, the sooner you need to apply because of the large applicant pool. Popular five figure scholarships like the Gates Millennium Scholars and Dell Scholar Program stop accepting applications in early January.

Lower your energy bill - get a rebate. Columbia Gas customers can qualify for a rebate for making home energy improvements . Rebates range from $50 to $300 for replacing windows, adding insulation or installing a tankless water heater.

If you're in the market for a new pet, Priority Automotive has you covered. The company has prepaid adoption fees for 500 animals at the Richmond SPCA through December 31.

More than seventy five percent of U.S. taxpayers get a refund of about $3000 - that's an interest-free loan your giving to Uncle Sam. You can put that money back in your pocket by increasing allowances for next year's paychecks.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.