At the Law Office of Michael West, we believe that spring cleaning is a great tradition. It gives everyone a chance to get rid of unnecessary items, organize files, clean up messes, and overall get household matters back in order and on track. We especially encourage our friends in the Georgia community to remember their finances when performing their household spring cleaning this year. Here are 5 tips on how to spring clean your finances. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss how to get your household expenses, savings, and debts in order in 2016. We look forward to help you!
- Organize, Organize, Organize
The very first thing you should do is gather and organize all of your financial papers: your mortgage or lease agreements, savings accounts, brokerage accounts, bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, W-2 and 1099 forms, receipts, medical bills, etc. In this age of online banking, a lot of this information may only be available on your computer. However, even if you are very computer savvy, it is always a good idea to have a hard copy (and maybe an extra copy or two) of important financial documents just in case something happens to the soft copy.
Once you have gathered everything you can find, then you have to organize the paperwork. This can be done by creating three or four easy categories such as “bills to be paid” and “Insurance Explanations of Benefits.” The simpler the organization, the easier and faster it will be for you to locate these documents when you need them (such as when filing your taxes in the next couple of weeks).
- Rank Your Debts
This tip can be accomplished in a few different ways. Some people like to rank their debts in ascending order (so the smallest debt is on the top) and others like to do so in descending order (so the largest debt is on the top). Many people use this system to both get a handle on exactly how much debt they have, and also to help them prioritize which debts to pay first.
- Identify Mistakes or Errors
Georgians should try to make it a habit to review their financial documentation regularly throughout the year, but we at the Law Office of Michael West completely understand that life happens. However, the only way you are going to learn about a fraudulent charge on your credit card or a billing error on your insurance claims is if you read these documents very, very carefully.
- Revisit Your Financial Goals
Did you save as much money as you wanted to last year? Did you contribute as much as you wanted to your retirement funds or to your children’s college savings plans? If so, congratulations! If not, don’t despair. Take a look at what happened to make you miss your goals. Maybe you had an unexpected expense or maybe you forgot to transfer funds from your checking into your saving account. If so, then consider setting up automatic transfers to help you reach your new goals next year. Setting goals – even small ones – can help us stay focused and on the right financial path.
- Talk to Someone If You Need Help
Many Georgians we have spoken with admit that they delayed their own financial spring cleaning because they knew something was not right. It can be difficult to come to terms with bills that keep piling up.
Financial setbacks can happen to anyone. The best thing you can do to recover is to speak to an experienced attorney about your options. Contact our office today!