As the month of March gets underway, the days are getting longer—and so are the hours you may need to spend on your finances.

Given the recent market turbulence, you will want to look closely at how well your retirement stock funds have held up. The Federal Reserve is also signaling that interest rates will continue to rise, which may hurt bond prices.

Plus, tax time is quickly approaching, so you probably have some paperwork to prepare.

Here are some steps you can take this month to help you withstand uncertain market forecasts, get ready to pay Uncle Sam, and ensure a more stable footing for your family’s finances.

Check Your Investments

The recent roller-coaster ride in the stock market is making some investors nervous, especially because it comes in the latter stages of a long bull market. 

We’re not suggesting making major changes based on recent market moves. But if you haven’t looked at your 401(k) portfolio in a while, it’s all the more reason to check under the hood. Here are three steps to consider: 

More Financial Tips

1. Rebalance your portfolio. Market moves may have pushed your asset allocations out of whack. Shift just enough out of your winning funds into the laggards to reset your intended mix.

2. Focus on high-quality bonds. Stick with high-quality bonds—those that hold investment grade and government issues.

3. Step up your saving. Automate your contributions, starting with your 401(k) plan. And try to put away the max, which is $18,500 in 2018. (Those 50 and older can put away an additional $6,000.) For IRA investors, the max is $5,500; those older than 50 can contribute an additional $1,000. 

For more investing tips, you can read Consumer Reports’ coverage on preparing for a market correction.

Get Ready for Uncle Sam

This year the new tax law is likely to spur more calls to the IRS from confused taxpayers, but the agency’s lack of funding means many calls may go unanswered.

The good news is there are free resources to help you get the answers you need to prepare your taxes.

As a starting point, the IRS website has detailed information for most scenarios. This includes interactive worksheets and calculators on subjects such as who you can claim as a dependent (the most asked question among individual taxpayers), which filing status to choose, eligibility for education credits, and whether you need to file a tax return at all.

You can also consult free DIY tax forums and experts in online tax-prep programs from H&R Block and TurboTax. Taxpayers can ask questions and get answers—in some cases from tax experts (which you’ll have to pay for) and in other cases free of charge from seasoned DIYers. 

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers are another option, but there are fewer of them. Find one here. You stand a better chance of getting a staffer’s time and attention if you schedule your appointment now, rather than waiting. 

Other free community-based help centers include Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), sponsored by the IRS and managed by trained local community volunteers. The TCE program is available for taxpayers 60 or older. 

Consider an Online Savings Account

With the Fed expected to hike rates further this year, an online bank savings account may pay off. These banks typically offer better rates and increase the interest they pay more aggressively than their walk-in counterparts.

Online banks can pay more than five times as much interest as a traditional bank account, according to a study by DepositAccounts, an account comparison website. On average, online banks now pay 0.93 percent interest, but some pay 1.6 percent or more.

There are some drawbacks. Before opening an online bank account, check out the fees and read the bank’s terms and conditions for minimum deposit requirements. Some institutions charge if the account falls below a certain amount, for example, or if you close the account soon after opening it. The number of withdrawals may also be limited.

Spend Your FSA Funds

If your employer-sponsored flexible saving account (FSA) has a grace period, you generally have until March 15 to spend whatever is left in your account from 2017 (up to $500). And for all 2017 expenses, whether incurred before the end of the year or during the extended grace period, you have until the end of March to submit those for reimbursement.

You can use an FSA to save on your healthcare expenses because you can put money into the account on a pretax basis. The funds can then be used to cover costs that your health insurance does not cover. The list of IRS-approved items you can buy with your FSA money ranges from acupuncture to X-rays. Head to for eligible items. 

Consider Buying Flood Insurance

April showers are right around the corner, but heavy rain isn’t the only reason you might need flood insurance. Melting snow, hurricanes, and mudslides are a few examples of natural disasters covered under a flood insurance policy, rather than your homeowners insurance.

Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, you still may want flood insurance to protect your home against potential damage. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, 20 percent of flood insurance claims are filed by people who live in low- to moderate-risk flood areas.

Annual premiums for federal flood insurance cost $878 (PDF) on average, but in a low- to moderate-risk area it could be even less. The amount will vary based on your home’s flood risk and the type of coverage you choose. There’s a 30-day waiting period before the policy is activated, so it’s a good idea to do this well before you think you may need it. 

Budget for Summer Travel

Chances are you already have a few great locations in mind for summer travel. But before committing to a destination, research the cost of airfare and accommodations to determine whether the trip is affordable.

If you find a good deal that is within your budget, book away. But if you don’t quite have enough cash to cover your trip, don’t pull out your credit card. Consider creating a special travel savings account and contributing to it for the next few months. 

Buy Products on Deep Discount

Consumer Reports’ product-research experts, who track prices all year long, have compiled a list of items that are usually at their lowest price in March. If you’re shopping for the best deals this month, look for sales on countertops, roofing, flooring, digital cameras, and boxed chocolates.