By: Colleen Weber
News / News and Updates
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By Colleen Weber, CFP®, CPA
Have you found yourself with some extra time on your hands these days? With the absence of commuting, traveling, eating out, and socializing in person, many of us have an emptier calendar than usual and want to use our time wisely. Allow us to make a suggestion: Why not do some financial spring cleaning? It’s the perfect opportunity to not only organize and declutter your home, but also give your finances a little extra love. It might even relieve some stress as you take proactive steps to gain a better understanding of your financial situation. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Declutter And Organize
This can seem like a daunting task, but think of how you’ll feel when it’s all done! Shredding old bank statements, pay stubs, and anything that has your personal information on it from more than 2 months ago is a great place to start. This decreases the risk of identity theft, frees up extra space, and allows you to find important documents much faster. The majority of banks, credit unions, and employers keep a digital file of all these statements should you need them for any reason.
Paper documents related to investments, home improvements, and taxes should be kept for seven years. Use the following link to find more details on what records to keep and for how long. (1)
Check Your Credit
Did you know that the federal government allows you to get a free credit report once per year? You can request yours at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. (2) Unlike some free credit reporting options, these are accurate records of your credit from three national credit bureaus. Whether you have great credit or you’re a little nervous to check your score, the important thing is that you are staying informed.
It’s important to take advantage of this even if you know the exact balance and interest rate from every creditor you pay. Doing all your banking, shopping, vacation bookings, and investments online are great for convenience, but having that personal information transmitted through the internet means you’re more susceptible to cyberattacks and identity theft. As a result, there is a higher chance that someone could obtain that information and start using your credit without you being aware of it.
Review Your Interest Rates
If you want something, sometimes all you have to do is ask. Since the Feds recently made a significant cut to interest rates, bringing them down to 0%-0.25%, it might be worth it to give your creditors a call to see if they can lower your credit card interest rates. If that doesn’t work, consider consolidating to a 0% interest rate credit card and transfer the balance so you can pay off the debt faster. Also, look at refinancing your vehicle loan or mortgage to pay off the debt faster or decrease the minimum payment so you can put more toward your emergency fund.
Rework Your Budget
Whether you religiously follow your budget or have never created one before, now is an ideal time to revisit your spending and be intentional about where your money goes. Some of us are facing loss of income and need to make some spending cuts, while others of us are saving money by not paying for childcare and filling up our gas tanks less often. Anytime you face a significant life change, your budget needs to be adjusted as well.
If you haven’t used a budget before, a few easy-to-use budgeting apps to choose from are Mint, PocketGaurd, GoodBudget (multiple users can access the same account), and YNAB or EveryDollar for zero-based budgeting. Some of these are free or have options to upgrade to a version that enables your banking to be automatically synced with the app. This way your expenses are imported into the app, allowing you to quickly assign expenses to all your budget categories without manually importing anything.
Reap the Rewards
Now that you are completely aware of your financial situation and know where to find things when you need them, you’ll experience added peace of mind—just when it’s needed. To make sure you haven’t missed anything, allow Colleen Weber CPA, CFP to walk you through a financial checkup and help you set some financial goals. If you want to benefit from the knowledge and experience of a financial advisor as you spring clean your finances, book a free introductory meeting online!
Colleen Weber is a fee-only financial advisor, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and CPA with more than 15 years of financial planning experience. Providing comprehensive financial planning and wealth management, she specializes in serving clients nearing retirement, retirees, busy professionals, and women. She is passionate about developing financial plans that save clients on taxes, and investment strategies that help them pursue their goals. Learn more about Colleen by connecting with her on LinkedIn or booking a complimentary phone call meeting.