Don't limit spring cleaning to your closets and cupboards-it's time to get your finances in order too! From reviewing your retirement plan to updating your budget, here are seven tips to help you freshen up your finances.
1. Check your credit
It's important to check your credit once a year. You need to make sure there aren't any errors dragging down your credit score. Free reports are available annually from each of the major credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. It's free, takes 10 minutes, and will give you peace of mind.
2. Update your budget
If you don't have a budget, make one. It will make managing your less overwhelming. If you already have a budget, make sure you update it once a year. Add any pay increases (or decreases) and adjust accordingly. Have a little excess money each month? Instead of blowing it on a weekend in New York City or a new dress you don't need, squirrel it away in savings.
3. Make a plan to cut your debt
Think of debt as clutter you need to put away. If you're carrying sizeable debts on your credit cards, it's time to make a plan to pay them off. Prioritize based on interest rate and balance and choose one to focus on this next year. This will keep your goal to reduce debt realistic and attainable. If you're expecting a tax refund, think about putting towards your biggest balance.
4. Review your retirement plan
When was the last time you peeked at your 401(k) or IRA? It's time to take a minute and review your investment strategy and make sure it still matches up with your retirement goals. If need be, chat with a retirement advisor about adjusting your investments to match your current risk tolerance.
5. Shred old documents
It can be hard to throw away or shred financial statements, but trust us; you don't need your bank statements from 2003. Outside of tax returns, which you should keep for five years as well as the supporting documentation and receipts, everything else can be thrown away after two years. Make sure you shred anything with personal info; just throwing it away can invite identity theft.
6. Make a will
If you don't have one already, there's no better time to make a will. If you die and leave no will, your assets may not be distributed as you'd planned and your estate will lose money trying to divvy it all out. If you already have a will, this is a good time to review it and make any adjustments based on new income or investments.
7. Review your stock portfolio
If you've been waiting for an investment to bounce back and it's been more than a year, it might be time to let it go. Holding on to stocks for emotional reasons instead of logical ones can end is disappointment-and huge losses of money. Make sure your investments are in line with your overall financial goals.
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