As you prepare for tax time, why not look at your finances in depth. Are you getting statements and not know what they about? You are getting all your documents together for tax time, so why not take a little extra time and get your financial house in order. Taxes, fees and losses harm your finances more than you think. Before you put your taxes away, lets take a look at your financial picture. There is no fee for a consultation.
Banking-Consolidate your accounts. Check your financial statements and bill pay; toss old statements because we receive an overwhelming number of monthly statements. While some financial whizzes use different accounts for different reasons, piling up benefits and perks, most people will benefit by streamlining accounts with a single financial institution.
Credit-Pull your credit report from all three bureaus-Transunion, Experian and Equifax. It is free once a year. A 50- or 100-point change in your credit score can mean the difference between great loan terms and terrible ones, and inaccuracies in your credit report can drag that score down at least that much. Do yourself a favor and double-check it, says Liz Weston, author of “Easy Money.” Once you have your reports, compare interest rates on your credit cards and pay off debt. Pay off holiday debt once and for all. What does your current debt load look like? Now is a good time to look at your total outstanding debts and see which loans or credit cards you could pay off entirely this year. At the very least, put yourself on a stricter debt payoff plan, and pay off any debt you accumulated over the holidays. Cleaning up this debt quickly can put you in a much better financial position for the rest of the year. I can help you read your credit report and suggest any credit repair/improvement.
Old accounts-Have you left accounts and forgotten about them? Stock, bank accounts, 401(k), insurance? Look at www.missingmoney.com to see if you have money just waiting for you. Try all forms of your name including married and maiden names. Also, look at your parents names.
Your Estate-Do you have a will? Do you need a trust? Need updates to existing documents? Have you had children since you made your decision? Bought a house? Divorced? Inherited money? This is a good time to look at your documents once a year. A lawyer can help you determine what you need to pass on the most to your heirs. I have an estate attorney that can help you know your options.
Retirement Accounts-First of all, do have them? If so, it is time to review and to see what they are actually doing. Are they meeting your retirement goals? Is it best to put your money in your 401(k) or your own IRA? Traditional or ROTH. When is it best to take Social Security? What if you live to 120? Will you have income guaranteed for life? Do you have long term care insurance? Are you prepared for care later in life? Come to our class to find out how to maximize your benefit. I have products that can create safe, predictable, guaranteed income you can never outlive.
Organize and/or Shred Old Financial Documents-Sort through your statements, pay stubs, bills and other financial records, and keep only the documents that are absolutely necessary. Since the IRS has up to six years to audit you, keep your tax returns, canceled checks and receipts, and any records supporting your tax deduction for at least six years. If you’re unsure about whether you should get rid of certain types of receipts, scan them or make a copy, then go ahead and shred the rest. But don’t simply toss paperwork in the trash.
Record Your Financial Passwords and Store Records in a Safe Place-Make sure you’re not using the same password and log in information for all your online bank accounts and other financial accounts. Even though you might be logging in over a secure Internet connection, there’s still a risk that someone who figures out your password will attempt to access other accounts with the same log in information. Protect yourself against identity theft by logging your financial passwords in a document and storing it in a safe place.
Review your Budget-Is your budget up to date, or have you forgotten to make changes when you had an increase or decrease in income? Take a close look at your budget to see if you need to make any modifications. What will your budget be when you are retired? Will your home be paid off? Need a new car? Will you be traveling more or less? More time with the grandchildren? Make sure you’re reporting expenses accurately and have made some room for savings account contributions. I have budget worksheets for you.
Analyze Your Insurance Coverage-We all have loads of insurance premiums to pay, ranging from homeowners or renter’s insurance to health care/Medicare coverage, auto insurance, life insurance and more. The only way to know if you’re still paying competitive rates is to have a broker check them for you. You might also consider raising your insurance deductibles, where appropriate, to save money. We have an expert broker with over 20 years experience to look over your policies.