12 MONTHS TO A MORE ORGANIZED FINANCIAL LIFE

(Taken from article by Ashley Tate in Thrivent, December, 2015)

Keeping your finances in order doesn’t require countless hours.  Take just one hour a month….that’s all it takes to get your finances in better shape by year’s end.  Use this checklist for 2016, or create one of your own.  The most important to-do??  Just get started!!

  • Review retirement-savings options – Do you have multiple accounts? If so, consider rolling balances into one IRA.  It makes it easier to manage.
  • Protect the people you love – Is your beneficiary information is up to date on insurance policies as well as investment and retirement accounts? This is especially important if you’ve had a major change, like a marriage, divorce or death.
  • Prepare for a spring break getaway – Notify credit card companies when you will be on vacation to avoid a block on cards.
  • Make sure your taxes are right – If you are getting consistent tax refunds, consider changing your deductions and put the excess into an emergency fund or pay down debt.
  • Keep paperwork safe – Make sure all key documents, such as wills and passports, are safe in a fire-proof box or safety deposit box. Compile other key documents (financial statements and insurance contracts) in one place.
  • Set up automatic bill pay – Paying 10 bills a month electronically saves nearly $60 annually. If some don’t allow that, create a calendar reminder to pay electronically on or before the due date.
  • Update auto and home insurance – Report updates to your home such as roof. If comprehensive and collision insurance on a car costs 10% or more of the vehicle’s value, consider carrying liability only on that vehicle.
  • Take stock of big-picture finances – Have an annual or semi-annual meeting with a financial advisor where you can share concerns and ask questions.
  • Use up your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Submit receipts for reimbursement and plan how to use remaining funds by Dec. 31 or by March 15, 2016 if your plan allows this additional time. Figure out if you need to change contributions for 2016 during your open enrollment period.
  • Draft and update your will and other documents – If you have a will, power of attorney or health care directive, look to see if they are still what you want. If you don’t have those items in place, take time this month to get them started.
  • Make it a month of giving – You may give during the year, but if you haven’t, finish annual giving before year’s end. Keep receipts together so you can take the right deductions come tax time.

Check off these to-dos, and you’ll have your finances in better shape by year’s end.