It's spring cleaning season – so why not whip up your finances again?
This may sound like an intimidating concept, especially if you haven't studied your financial situation in years, but organizing your money doesn't have to be painful. We're here to walk you through each step so you can rest about your financial future.
Why you should organize your finances
Examining your finances is the first step in getting your financial life in order. Never stopping to inventory what you have and what you owe is like a road trip with an incomplete map. You may get to your destination, but it will take a lot longer to get there. Organizing your finances can make it easier for you to get out of debt, save for retirement, or pay for your child's college education.
This process can also help you identify blind spots or problem areas, such as: B. a brokerage account that you forgot or an old bank account that has been overdrawn. The sooner you discover and address these issues, the closer you will be to achieving your goals.
Check your bank and credit card statements
Keeping track of your expenses is one of the most important aspects of organizing your financial world, especially when you are not in the habit of checking your bank statements.
Log in to your bank and credit card account and review all expenses over the past few months. You may find recurring charges you forgot, evidence of fraud, or unused subscriptions that you never canceled.
If you discover charges that you don't realize, contact the card company to dispute them. You usually only have 60 days to dispute a fee. So don't expect to get your money back once this period is up. You can cancel the card in question to avoid fraudulent charges.
Consolidate bank accounts
Too many bank accounts can be confusing, expensive, and ultimately harmful. Many banks charge monthly maintenance fees if you don't meet the minimum balance or don't have a direct deposit. So a forgotten account can cost you.
Take a look at your current checking and savings accounts to see which ones to keep and which to close. You should have a checking account and at least one savings account for your emergency fund and other goals.
Some consumers want to have multiple savings accounts for different savings goals, such as: B. one for vacation and one for home repair. However, if having multiple accounts sounds too stressful, stick with a checking account and a savings account.
This is also a good time to consider switching banks if you are being charged excessive fees. Online banks and credit unions often have lower fees and higher interest rates.
Rollover Old 401 (ks)
When you leave a job, packing the items on your desk is easy. What many people forget to take with them is their 401 (k).
Rolling over old 401 (k) s is key to consolidating your finances. If you leave a 401 (k) with your old employer, you will likely forget about it. That is why it is important to turn it around as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the account can become difficult to access because you forgot your password or other important information.
You can renew your old 401 (k) if you have an IRA or 401 (k) with your current employer. Contact your old 401 (k) provider and ask how to renew an account.
After completing this process, make sure your money is invested. People often forget to invest the money after it has been renewed so that it is in the cash portion of their retirement account and hardly any interest accrues.
Organize Your Debt
If you have any credit or credit card debt, use a spreadsheet or pen and paper to organize them. The following should be noted:
The entire remaining balance
The minimum monthly payment
The interest rate
The remaining term (does not apply to credit cards or lines of credit)
All other relevant details, e.g. B. If it is a 0% APR credit card that will soon be upgraded to a higher APR
Not sure you've found all of your loans? You can find it on your official credit report, which can be found at AnnualCreditReport.com. There are three credit bureaus that produce credit reports. Since not all lenders report activity to all three credit bureaus, it is helpful to view each one individually.
If you see an account that you don't recognize, it could be a sign of identity theft. You can file a dispute with the credit bureaus to have it removed from your record.
Now that you have your loans organized, you can begin creating a debt settlement plan. You can also sync these accounts with your Mint profile, which will remind you of the due date to avoid late payments.
Assess your insurance needs
Insurance is one of those financial topics that most people hardly think about.
While it may be a tedious experience, reassessing your insurance needs is a crucial part of personal finance.
For example, you may need to get life insurance now that you are married with children. You may also want to take out disability insurance or increase the limits on your car insurance. This is also a good time to compare offers from other companies to make sure you are getting the best price.
Find a system to stick to
Once you have completed your finances review, it is time to put in place a system to keep everything organized. Set up a regular time to search your bank, credit card, and investment accounts. Pick a day that works every week and make it a habit.
Ask for help
The scrutiny of your finances can be overwhelming, especially if you've been postponing it for months or years. If you run into a problem like an old investment you don't understand or a credit card that has defaulted because the bills were delivered to an old address, it's time to seek help.
If you have a problem with a loan or credit card, call the lender or credit card provider and ask about your options. If you have a tax problem, you may need to find a CPA or registered agent who can help you. For investment or general financial questions, contact a financial planner.
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Zina Kumok (120 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.