Published by Teresa Milner
The snow has melted away outdoors, neighbors are cleaning up their yards/gardens and you’ve discovered that dust has settled in many areas of your house. While these areas deserve your time and attention to rid them of grime build up, it’s also a good time to check under the roof of your financial house. Just like the dust build up behind your couch, there are areas in your finances that can be accruing messes too. The following is a checklist of steps to take to “Get Your Financial House in Order”:
1) Organize Your Spending: This might be just as fun as cleaning out your junk drawer, but it certainly can make things easier to find! Go through your spending habits by viewing your past bank statements and/or credit card statements. Organize these expenses into categories. Determine whether or not your money is being spent on things that matter most to you and your family. I’m a big promoter of “pay yourself first”, so make sure you are saving!
2) Clean Windows So You Can See Better: Isn’t it refreshing to have clean windows? You can see what is outside with so much more clarity. With your finances, run projections using various assumptions about rates of return and inflation, and look to see where you’re headed. There may be something you should be doing now to make the journey more enjoyable. Knowing where your money is taking you down the road is an important step to take, and the sooner the better.
3) Your Investments Should Be Tidy: Just like knowing where things belong in your house, your investments deserve a plan. Are you taking on enough risk? Or, are you taking on too much risk? Does your time horizontally align with your investment allocations? Are the beneficiaries listed on your accounts current? A couple of keys to building wealth and retiring comfortably are being diligent with your savings and making sound investment decisions.
4) Dust Off Your Credit Report: It is important to review your credit report for accuracy at least annually, and it’s easy. If you plan to buy a home or make other major purchases, a good credit rating can be critical. Plus, it’s a good way to catch signs of identity theft. You’re entitled to one free annual report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
5) Clean Out the Cobwebs: If you have credit card debt and a goal of yours is to eliminate it, develop a plan to pay off this debt. Tackle the high interest debt first. It’s even worth the time and effort of calling the credit card company in an attempt to negotiate a lower interest rate. The worst they can tell you is no. Once you’ve eliminated your credit card debt, you’ll no longer be paying the interest charges for the debt. Instead, upon elimination of the debt, invest the money and earn interest!
6) Go Paperless: If you found boxes and piles of statements while spring cleaning, it’s a good time to take inventory of all the places you can go paperless. This will not only create more desktop space and eliminate clutter, you will more than likely find you have access to tools that help you become more efficient and organized. Plus, you’ll be helping our environment!
7) Hire Professionals When Needed: So, cleaning carpets and air ducts in your house isn’t your cup of tea. You know it needs to be done, and you’re not going to do it, so hire the right people to do it for you. The same thing is true with your financial house. Work with a professional that can and will provide the services you need. Determine the professional services you need. Conduct interviews to pick a financial advisor you can trust and you want to work with, and get your financial house in order!