Don’t forget that now is a great time to sit down and work out a budget for the next few months. We’re all living in a volatile financial environment, and a budget is one way to cope with the stress of that situation. Check out these tips on a few ways to spring clean your finances and set those budgets.
Check your debts and create a budget
Start by checking your cash flow. As the years change and we encounter lifestyle changes our cash flow can change. Sit down and figure out what you have. Next you will want to figure out your debts, how much interest you’re paying, and when payments are due throughout the year. Search for ways to reduce the interest rate you pay on loans and credit cards. Look for opportunities to consolidate debt if it makes financial sense. Also make sure to see if there is unnecessary debt that can be eliminated. After that start a budget for the rest of the year that maps out cash flow in, cash flow out and when the best time is to pay the bills – this will allow you to put in place a system to avoid late payments.
Check your credit report
Every year, you are guaranteed a credit report from each of three credit bureaus. Take advantage of this and make sure that you are checking them for any possible errors. Errors can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you a higher interest rate. Request one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
Review automated payments
Many people have recurring payments that are automatically deducted from financial accounts. Review those payments, canceling those for products and services that are no longer used — such as gym memberships, streaming services or apps with programs you rarely watch.
Start a new savings account for upcoming trips, holidays or emergencies
Make sure that you are saving. Whether it is for a family trip, the holidays or an emergency savings account (even one for our pets) it is good to have an account to fall back on. You don’t have to put a lot into it right away, set a dollar amount for each time you get paid or even a monthly goal to deposit. Sometimes we forget that the money we spend on little daily things would add up quick in a savings account. You can set up an account online by visiting https://www.beaconcu.org/resources/open-an-account/ .
Check up on insurance coverage
When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners or life insurance policies? It may be time for an insurance checkup, and not just to make sure you’re getting the most competitive rates. Pull copies of your policy documents to ensure you have adequate coverage or conduct an annual review with your insurance agent.
Make sure your information is up-to-date
People pass away, get divorced, get remarried, and have children. When those and other life events occur, people often forget to update their account information. Life insurance, retirement account beneficiary designations, financial accounts and wills are just a few that come to mind. Now is a great time to review them and make any appropriate changes.
Practice cyber-security best practices
If your passwords typically vary between your birthday or your pet’s name, you should plan to increase your level of security (particularly for financial accounts and email). If you have trouble remembering all your passwords for various services you use, consider using a password manager. Look for a product that includes multi-factor authentication for the most security.
Document everything and shred old documents
It is recommend to document all your accounts, bills, and service provider contact information. You will be happy to have all important information together if there is an emergency or in the unfortunate event of someone passing away. Make sure that when you are going through your documents that you are not throwing old ones in the trash. Fraudsters love when you do this – keep them at bay by shredding those old documents!
Beacon Credit Union does not endorse or support any of the businesses listed above. This article is provided only as a resource for information.