The arrival of spring signals many things: new beginnings, warmer weather and the end of dreary winter days. Spring is also synonymous with cleaning—typically referring to cleaning out closets, junk drawers and the like. However, spring cleaning can extend to a number of different things that could use a little attention and organization, such as your finances.
Here are five ways to spring-clean your financial picture this season:
April 17th, 2018 is Tax Day. While many choose to get a head start and file early, if you have not yet completed the process, prioritize finishing up with either an online tax preparation resource or your tax professional. If necessary, you may file a six-month extension until October 16, 2017. Lastly, if you don't already, organize and store your tax records in a secure location. The IRS recommends keeping tax records and supporting documents for at least 3 to 7 years, depending on your situation.1 Store hard copies of confidential information, such as your tax records, in a secure location while also saving digital copies in a secure spot on your laptop or computer for back-up.
Still receive paper statements and bills? Reduce clutter in your household by opting into paperless or online documents instead. Most banks or financial institutions offer some sort of paperless option that is easy to opt-in to and is relatively user-friendly. After you make the switch, organize your existing collection of paper documents by shredding any unnecessary items containing personal information to protect against identity theft. Keep all sensitive and necessary documents containing personal information, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, etc., in a secure spot.
Positioned several months into the year, spring is a great time to review your spending and progress made on your budget. Take a look at your past few bank statements and evaluate how your spending and saving habits are aligning with your budgeting strategy. Make adjustments to your budget if necessary--identify areas for improvement or items that could be eliminated, such as unused memberships, apps, streaming services, etc. If this marks the first time you have evaluated your budget this year, set calendar reminders to review your budget more regularly to ensure you are staying on pace.
Set aside some time to review your insurance policies and recurring bills. Your insurance policies are not meant to be put into place and never looked at again. Make an appointment with your financial advisor to review your policies and identify areas that could need some updates. If the past year contained a major life change, such as a marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, death, etc., your coverage may need to be adjusted and your beneficiaries may need to be updated. A financial advisor can help ensure all your bases on these fronts are covered. Additionally, if you have not reviewed other recurring bills for a few months, such as your cable, internet, cell phone, car insurance, etc., check out some other options to determine if the rates you are paying are competitive.
You are entitled to check your credit score once every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. Reviewing your credit score report at least once a year is beneficial to increase your own self-awareness on where you are at and what goes into the score. It can also help you detect if anything is harming your score, from a simple error that could be corrected if reported to fraudulent charges that have not been discovered yet. Check your score from one of the three bureaus at the government-approved website www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Keep in mind that your financial advisor can help you navigate any of these tips and more that you may need assistance on. Need help finding an advisor in your area? Find one here.
Written by North Star Resource Group.
1IRS. "2018 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 29, Tax Returns Due April 17; Help Available for Taxpayers." https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/2018-tax-filing-season-begins-jan-29-tax-returns-due-april-17-help-available-for-taxpayers. Published January 4, 2018.
North Star Consultants, Inc., Insurance Products and Services| CRI Securities, LLC - Securities and Investments | Securian Financial Services, Inc. – Variable Products and Securities | North Star Resource Group offers securities and investment advisory services through CRI Securities, LLC and Securian Financial Services, Inc. Members FINRA/SIPC. CRI Securities, LLC is affiliated with Securian Financial Services, Inc. and North Star Resource Group. North Star Resource Group is not affiliated with Securian Financial Services, Inc. North Star Resource Group is independently owned and operated. North Star Resource Group, 2701 University Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414. 1736583/DOFU 3-2017