Tidying Up Your Finances
March 21, 2019
(StatePoint) The cultural phenomenon sparked by professional organizing consultant Marie Kondo has motivated millions worldwide to declutter. While cleaning out your closet and making a financial plan may be two very different things, tidying up your finances can also "spark joy."
A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) can help you commit to a plan that helps you take control of your spending, providing you with confidence today and a more secure tomorrow.
Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
1. Write down your financial goals and post them somewhere prominent, such as your fridge. These can be small goals, like "I will bring lunch to work three days a week," or bigger goals, like "I will pay off my student loan."
2. Calculate your net worth to get an overall picture of your financial standing. Your net worth is everything you own minus everything you owe.
3. Update (or create) your budget showing what money is coming in and what's going out. Make sure it's not in the red, meaning you're spending more than you're earning.
4. Consider opening a Christmas club-type savings account to pay for big-ticket personal expenses. Originally pioneered during the Great Depression, Christmas clubs were financial accounts people added cash to throughout the year. They then used these savings to buy holiday gifts, helping to avoid the holiday spending "hangover." You can create your own by automating savings each month, ideally in an interest-bearing account. If you save $75 a month, you'll have $900 over the course of a year (or even more, if you earn interest).
5. Start gathering tax documents like W-2 and 1099 forms and receipts for charitable contributions. Taxes are right around the corner. Do them early if you can.
6. Check your credit report. With Credit Karma, you can check your credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax for free weekly. Additionally, you can check your report from each of the three main credit bureaus once a year for free with AnnualCreditReport.com.
7. Set a deadline to pay off credit cards in full. This will help motivate you to take control of your debt.
8. Rebalance your 401(k) about once a year to see if you are out of balance from your original goals. For example, if your allocation was 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds, but stocks had a good year, you might now have a 65 percent stocks and 35 percent bonds allocation, so this will have to be rebalanced.
9. Increase your savings plans. This could be your employer plan at work, your own emergency fund, or both. Consider raising your contribution by 1 percent a year.
10. Meet with a CFP professional. If you haven't begun planning for retirement or tying your financial goals to your life goals, there's no better time than now to start. You can find a CFP at letsmakeaplan.org.
As you put your belongings in order, consider your finances. Simple measures can help you tidy up your finances.