Financial Spring Cleaning
Get rid of clutter
Your first task may already be on your regular spring cleaning checklist. While you’re cleaning out your closets and drawers, set aside some of your gently used cast-offs to sell at a garage sale or online. It’s like getting paid to clean your own house! You should also tackle the clutter inside your filing cabinet, which is more than likely overflowing with bank statements and tax forms. Cleaning it out now will make it easier for you to find important documents throughout the year.
Inventory your possessions
After decluttering your house, take time to inventory the items you put back in your closets. If you ever need to make a claim on your homeowners or renters insurance, you’ll save yourself a headache by already having a record of your belongings.
Check your credit report
You can get a free credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies every year. Many consumers stagger their claims so they can monitor their report for errors throughout the year. If you’re not already on a schedule for reviewing your reports, you can start now by claiming one from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
Rebalance your portfolio
To make sure your portfolio matches the asset allocation you originally chose, you should be rebalancing regularly. If you didn’t do it at the end of the year, there’s no time like now to readjust.
Start a Budget
If you’ve been meaning to start a budget, now is the time to get it done. Sign up for free budgeting software such as Mint.com, or set up a good, old-fashioned spreadsheet. If you already have a working budget, give it a onceover and make sure it still reflects your income and expenses.
Make a will
Stop putting it off and get it done this spring, if you haven’t already. While you’re at it, review the beneficiaries listed on all of your accounts and ensure that they’re up to date.
Do some comparison shopping
Researching rates for any large expense is an easy, yet time-consuming way to save money. Set aside the time so you can make sure you’re getting the best insurance rates, the lowest credit card interest rates, and the best deals on cable, internet and other recurring bills. If not, try to negotiate or consider switching.
Adjust retirement account contributions
If you received a raise or other financial windfall last year, you can adjust your retirement contributions to reflect the change in income. Or, if you regularly contribute the annual limit, adjust to reflect the increased 2013 limit. This small, quick task can lead to a major payoff in the future.
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