Its time for a spring money cleanup. I'm not suggesting you run your cash through the washing machine. Instead, you might want to invest in a file box and a small home shredder and start getting rid of excess paper that clogs up the view of your finances. Now that you've finally organized enough to finish your taxes, it's the perfect time for a spring money clean up.
Here are seven steps to take now.
1. Save only the necessary paper, and save in an organized way. Yes, you needed receipts for business expenses, so clean out a small drawer or buy a wire desktop basket and clean out your wallet regularly, throwing those receipts into the basket. It's amazing how much time you will save -- and how much money -- next April, or when you file your expense reimbursement forms at work.
2. Stop receiving paper when you can. There's no need to get bank statements in the mail every month, since your bank allows you access to an online archive. Similarly, elect to receive your brokerage and mutual fund statements online. You can easily vote your share holdings online. If everyone did that we would save a forest every year!
3. Consolidate accounts. There's definitely a point at which having too many financial accounts complicates your ability to make smart money decisions. You'll want to stay under the insured limits for bank CDs, but that doesn't mean you need small accounts in different banks. In fact, I'd you have a larger profile at one bank,you could pay less in fees, or get free checking. Similarly, consolidating stock trading accounts could earn you commission discounts. Fewer accounts mean fewer organizational challenges.
4. Organize your financial life. You can't completely eliminate paper, but you can keep it organized. If you were killed in a accident today, would your family know where to find all your assets? What about your life insurance policies, your will and trusts, your cemetery deed? Do your loved ones a favor and buy a small, locked file box and leave instructions. (You can get a link to my free financial organizer form at www.TerrySavage.com, to serve as a guide for your family.)
5. Deal with your credit cards. If you're carrying more than two or three cards in your wallet, leave some at home. If you don't use some cards anymore, consider closing the accounts. (But hang onto your oldest cards, as longevity helps your credit score.) And make a list of outstanding balances and finance rates on each card, so you can pay them down more rationally.
6. Make a list of everything in your wallet. If your wallet or purse were stolen, would you even know what's missing? List the cards, account numbers --and the toll free number listed on the back of the card so you can act quickly in case of theft. Don't forget your drivers license number! And take anything with your Social Security number out of your wallet. That includes Medicare cards for seniors!
7. Review your 401(k)or IRA investment choices. The first quarter has just ended and this is a good time to make adjustments. For unbiased advice, use the free link to Financial Engines on TerrySavage.com. Most of the Fortune 100 companies offer this service to their retirement plan participants. They'll let you know how to best adjust your portfolio to reach your retirement goals.
Well, that is a seven-point financial spring cleaning list. If you do one every day, you'll be finished in a week. And you'll feel a lot better for having accomplished it. That's The Savage Truth.