Springtime is here and that comes with spring cleaning for many of us. This is also a great time to do some spring cleaning on your finances. Here are 5 places you can get started:
Get rid of old paperwork.
There is no need to keep filing cabinets full of old papers, but how do you know what you need to keep around? This article from Consumer Reports tells you how long you should be keeping your old receipts, pay stubs, and tax paperwork. Keep key documents in one place, as suggested by FEMA. Shred everything you don’t need. Don’t have a personal shredder? Check and see if your local police department has free shredding dates. While you’re at it, go paperless whenever possible and have your statements sent to you electronically. Only save what you need to on your computer. If you pay your bills electronically, you’ll also save on postage.
Check your credit report.
Every consumer can check their credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. But did you know that you can get one free report from each credit bureau (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax)? That means you can get a total of THREE free reports per year! One strategy is to space them out over the year so that you always have a clear picture of your credit situation. Review it for mistakes or things you need to take care of.
Evaluate your tax withholding.
Did you get a huge tax refund? Then you just gave Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. Did you have to pay a lot in taxes this year? Then you didn’t have enough withheld. It is wise to check your withholdings every time you have a life change event such as marriage, divorce, or a new baby. You can read more about evaluating these here.
Look over your earnings record with Social Security.
You may be several years away from retirement, but have you ever glanced at your earnings record at Socialsecurity.gov? The Social Security Administration has cut down on the statements that it mails out, so it’s worthwhile to log in at least once a year to make sure that employers have correctly reported your earnings. Underreporting and other errors could mean less money for you when you do retire. Sign up and you’ll also have access to your Social Security statement, which shows an estimated retirement benefit.
Reevaluate your expenses.
Now is a great time to take a fresh look at your recurring expenses. Did your cable or internet bill go up in January? Call your service providers to see if you are getting the best deal out there, and if you aren’t, see if you are eligible to switch. For instance, my cable/internet package recently went up over $50 per month. I contacted my provider and was able to change to a new incentive program at a lower price. My internet company told me I can switch plans every three months. Do you have subscriptions that have been auto-renewing because you haven’t had a chance to cancel them? Check your bank and credit card statements for these automatic charges and cancel and you don’t use anymore.
If you find anything interesting while cleaning things out, let us know. Post a comment or let us know in our Facebook group.