Do you know your credit score? Are you on track with your financial goals? Do you feel confident that you can weather a financial storm?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you might want to take some time to do a financial clean-up this fall.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure your finances are in order before we hit the end of the year.
Take stock of your debt
Are you carrying credit card balances? Do you have student loans, auto loans, or mortgage and home equity debt?
These may not be negatives, but it is a good idea to figure out just how much you owe and to whom to make sure you’re living within your means. If you’re concerned about high-interest debts, contact us to see about ways we can help you lower interest rates and pay things off faster.
Check your credit report
You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year at no charge. Get yours at annualcreditreport.com. (You may see other sites that offer free reports if you sign up for credit monitoring services. These can lock you into a pricey subscription service that is hard to cancel, so be sure you’re on the annualcreditreport.com site.)
It can be a good idea to spread out your report requests, getting one report from one agency every four months. That way, you get frequent updates on what is on your report, and you won’t have to pay.
If you see errors or omissions, follow the credit reporting agency’s guidelines for submitting a dispute.
Assess your spending
Do you know where your money is going? If not, you can use the spending tools in online or mobile banking to see which categories your income goes to. If you find you’re spending more than you’d like in any categories, work with your family to come up with strategies for lowering the spending. If anyone balks at cutting the dinner out budget, for example, you can agree to put those savings toward a holiday treat for the family or some other common goal.
Revisit your goals
Did you set big money goals this year? Or do you have some general goals you’re working toward, such as saving an emergency fund or paying down debt?
This is a good time to check your progress on those — and to see if those goals still meet your needs. The nice thing about doing this in the fall is that you still have some year left to make adjustments.
If you’re not hitting your goals, look at ways to help get yourself back on track, such as creating a budget, setting more realistic goals, or setting automatic transactions for your savings or bill payments.
Deal with your papers
Tax time isn’t the only time you can feel inundated with records. And it isn’t the only time you should make sure your files are in order.
First, file any documents regarding major home improvements, appliance purchases, and other big expenditures. That will ensure that you can easily access these papers if you need them for warranty service or when you’re selling your home.
Then discard any outdated paperwork so your files aren’t crammed full of old junk. Many local businesses and police departments offer shred events so you can safely dispose of these documents you no longer need.
Need help getting your finances in order? Give us a call at 800-722-2936 to discuss some ways we can help.