By Lori Chillingworth
Zion’s Bank Women’s Financial Group
Spring cleaning may bring to mind mops, ammonia, and a feather duster but it should also bring to mind your checkbook, credit card statements, and credit report.
A year’s worth of spending and investing can leave you with a clutter of statements, bills, and paper work that can make your financial life more complicated than it needs to be. Spring is an excellent time to take stock of your finances. Your taxes are done and you still have much of the year ahead of you to meet your budgetary goals.
Organize Your Paperwork
Start by reducing the amount of paper you’ve accumulated. Shred financial records you no longer need. Create a file system for the information you need to keep. Documents related to income and receipts for tax credits and deductions should be kept for at least three years. Statements dealing with investments and homeownership should be retained as long as the assets are owned. Start a 2007 tax file so you’ll have some all the documents at hand come tax time.
Check Out Your Credit
Everyone is allowed one free copy of their credit report each year from the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TansUnion). Go to the only official website for free credit reports: www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 for your free copy. Watch out for other websites claiming to offer the free credit report; these usually include sales pitches. Be proactive and challenge anything that’s inaccurate.
Tune up Your 401(k)
Review the gains and loses in your 401(k) over the course of the year; they can throw off the balance in your 401(k). Your portfolio mix is important to ensure achievement of your long-term investment/retirement goals. Your employer’s 401(k) provider can offer excellent basic advice.
Dust Off Your Budget
Remember those New Year’s resolutions to pay down your credit cards and start a money market account? Time to dust off the resolutions and see where things stand financially. Your budget is your financial roadmap for the year; if you don’t check it and retool it, you won’t get where you want to be financially. Look for ways to reduce spending. This will free up cash to either pay down debt or save.
Now that you’ve conquered your financial spring cleaning, you can move onto tackling the bathroom grout and the dust bunnies under the couch! An annual financial spring cleaning will help you stay on track with your financial goals and give you the peace of mind to know your finances are in good order.