A clean house is good, but clean finances could be better!
Don't Forget to Do Your Financial Spring Cleaning
by Paige Estigarribia
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When March and April roll around every year, spring cleaning jumps to the forefront of everyone's minds (and homes!) and with good reason. During spring, the sun starts shining and temperatures start to warm. Spring is an optimal time to clear out the dust and clutter that has accumulated during your hibernation inside all winter, but spring could also be an excellent time to focus on reviewing and decluttering your financial life. Here's a list of seven pieces of your financial pie perfect for a spring dust-off:
1. Your Mortgage
A mortgage for many people is the largest (and the longest term) debt they have. Despite the length of this debt in your life, there are options for reducing your payment. Take a look at the current interest rates, because spring could be a good time for refinancing to a lower rate if one is available.
If you have a $200k 30-year mortgage a 1% lower rate could save you $35,000 over the life of the mortgage or about $120 a month in lower mortgage payments! You can compare rates yourself with this tool from our friends at Bankrate.com. You'll be asked for some basic information. Then you'll see different lenders and their rates. If you find a rate lower than your rate, let them know that you're interested in a refi.
If you're not that familiar with mortgages, you can get help from experts we know and trust at ArcLoan.
2. Your Insurance Policies
Spring is a wonderful time to take inventory of the insurance policies that you currently have and what the benefits are. It may be time for additional life insurance? Or maybe you've decided to invest in long-term care insurance? Make a list of the policies that you currently have and review the benefits in those policies.
And don't forget to review your homeowner's insurance policies and your automobile policy. As you review, be sure that the benefits are still what you need, and if not, research making a change to a policy with a better fit.
3. Your Credit Cards
Take out your recent credit card statements and review balances and interest rates. If you've got a balance on your card, spring could be the perfect time to make a plan and pay it off. And spring could also be a good time to do a search and see if there are other credit card options with lower interest rates or better benefits. If you find one that fits better with your needs, you can make the change.
4. Your Credit Report
You can obtain a free credit report every year, so spring could be an optimal time to take a look at your credit. Double check that there isn't any unidentified information or accounts on your credit report, and review it carefully to be sure you are familiar with (and know about) the accounts that are listed. If you find incorrect, erroneous, or unfamiliar information, you'll promptly want to take the next steps to correct it. Access your credit report here.
5. Your Social Security Report
Spring is also a great time to review your social security information, so that you are aware of what you've earned. You'll want to keep up with your social security especially if you are the process of planning for retirement. You can access your Social Security report here.
6. Your Major Assets
You may also want to review a list of your major assets in case of any future, potential insurance claims. If you haven't made a list like this, take a moment to write down the major assets you currently have. You might even consider taking photographs too. In case you have a potential insurance loss or damage claim in the future, your list and photos could be helpful in sorting through the insurance process.
7. Your Savings Accounts
Your savings should be earning you interest. It's easier than ever to compare rates and switch banks if necessary. Compare savings rates here.
And that's it! During spring, most everyone is already looking at their finances for taxes. Why not tackle this list at the same time and give yourself a financial spring cleaning as well?
Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.
Take the Next Step:
- Decide which financial cleaning task you'll tackle first.
- Visit the TDS library for more on doing a financial checkup.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
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