Today is the first day of Spring and I know for many of us it's been a long winter. But now the snow is (hopefully) behind us, the weather is turning milder and it's time for some rejuvenation. Here are some tips for spring-cleaning your finances:
Clean out your files: get rid of old bills, statements and other outdated documents. Keep tax returns and supporting documents for 7 years, and keep receipts or credit card statements for big ticket items that you still own. Be sure to shred anything you are discarding - never put anything with personal information on it into the trash.
Clean out your closets: take old clothes, toys and household items to a local charity: Bring canned goods to your local food pantry. If you get a receipt from the non-profit organization you can take a tax deduction for your donations.
Evaluate your insurance policies: Make sure you have an adequate amount of life insurance, and that the type of policy (term, whole life, etc) is appropriate for your situation. Review homeowners, auto, disability and other policies too.
Review your beneficiary designations: Look at your beneficiary choices for life insurance, IRAs, 401(k)s and other tax-deferred accounts. Have you assigned primary and contingent beneficiaries? Are you still happy with those choices?
Clean out your wallet: Get rid of old credit cards you don't use. Having a few credit cards is good - having too many can hurt your credit score. Keep older cards and those with the lowest rates. While you're at it...
Get a credit report: go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get your free credit report. Close old accounts and make sure all the information on the report is accurate.
Consolidate IRAs: If you have multiple IRAs, consolidate them into one account. You can also roll old 401(k)s into your IRA. A rollover is not taxable as long as the money goes from one tax-deferred account to the other within 60 days. Consult the custodian of the account you want to transfer for detailed instructions on how to do a rollover.
Doing all of the above might take you right into summer, but you'll be well organized financially.
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