If you’re like most people, you periodically set aside time to clean out your home, garage or closets. It’s equally as important to take time to organize your finances. The following checklist can help you get started:
• Cancel unused credit cards — If you’re paying an annual fee on a credit card or other account that you don’t use, you’re throwing money away. So, cash in any rewards points you have earned and then cancel the account. Of course, take into consideration whether canceling the card will negatively affect your credit rating.
• Cancel unused memberships — If a new at-home exercise routine has replaced your trips to the health club or gym, or if you’re no longer playing golf at a course you belong to, consider canceling your membership. Even if you have to pay a fee, you may quickly recoup your financial losses.
• Consolidate accounts – You don’t necessarily need multiple checking, savings, investment, retirement or credit card accounts, yet many people maintain them – often because it takes extra time up-front to consolidate. Maintaining numerous accounts can increase the amount of time you spend opening mail, reconciling statements, keeping records and paying bills. When it comes to credit, you may also earn more rewards if you stick to one or two cards.
• Negotiate better deals with your service providers — Whether it’s your cable, Internet or waste removal company, chances are you can negotiate a better rate. Simply take time to get quotes from competitors. If they are offering lower rates for the same services, go back to your service provider to see if they will price match to keep your business. If not, switch to someone new.
• Update your financial records — Make a list of your current financial accounts, contacts and passwords. Keep this information in a safe and secure place.
• Update your beneficiary designations — Your beneficiary designations override your will. So, if you’ve experienced a marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or death, make sure your beneficiary designations reflect your wishes.
• Review your home and auto insurance coverage — Make sure your coverage reflects your present needs. Also, price shop the same coverage with different providers. Whether you switch to a new provider or use this information to strike a deal with your current provider, you could save a significant amount.
• Simplify your investments – If tracking various investments is stressing you out, consider asset allocation or managed accounts. Attempting to manage and track too many investment accounts can require a great deal of time and, if you’re not on top of the details, can prevent you making the best investment choices for your portfolio. Consider working with a financial professional to help you organize your finances and help you determine what kinds of investments might work best for you.
Consult your financial advisor for more ideas and strategies on ways you can save.
Craig W. Mullenbrock holds the professional designation of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner (CFP®). He is a Financial Advisor and franchise owner of Mullenbrock & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. His practice specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been practicing for nearly 30 years. The office is located at 228 West Ash St., Piqua. (937) 773-8500. www.mullenbrockassociates.com.