Financial Spring Cleaning

Ray’s Take: This time of year our thoughts turn to spring – and cleaning. Sprucing up our yard. Clearing out closets and other clutter. But how about our finances? Spring is a great time to take a look at debt, savings, budgets and retirement plans with an eye to getting them all in shape.

Take a look at any holiday debt you incurred and make plans to pay it off. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 7 percent of shoppers go into the new holiday season still paying off debt from the previous one. If there’s any interest being incurred, that’s the place to start. Taking steps to pay it now will leave money to save before the next holiday season rolls around.

Take a look at your credit reports to make sure there’s nothing on them that’s incorrect, and if there is, take steps to get it corrected. You can get a free report every 12 months to help ensure there is no false information reported about you. Line up all debt in order of interest rate and start knocking them down.

How about your budget? If you don’t have one, do it now. If you do, how have you been doing with it? Over it? Under it? Now is a good time to review your budget and make any adjustments to get back on track if you’ve swerved off it, or to tweak it to make it work even better for you.

Multiple 401(k) accounts should be consolidated if possible. Look at your options and choose the plan with the lowest fees. Make sure your asset allocation is consistent with your plan. If you have changed jobs a few times, you may have left your 401(k) to continue being handled by your previous employer. Combining multiple 401(k)’s makes it easier to manage these accounts and to avoid paying fees to multiple managers.

Taking steps to keep your financial house in order will pay dividends all year long. Once you’ve done that, you can relax in the knowledge that you’ve checked that off your to-do list.

Dana’s Take: While you have your mind on spring-cleaning, take a look in your purse or wallet. Did you find any partially used or unused gift cards languishing in there? If you don’t plan to use them, investigate websites that will pay you cash to take them off your hands.

How about your closet? Do you constantly feel like you have nothing to wear, but the closet is bursting at the seams? Winnow that wardrobe down and sell the rest. Your closet will thank you.

Go through your loyalty cards and frequent flyer points. Tally everything up and use points that are on the verge of expiration.

Doing simple spring-cleaning chores like these can result in more cash in your life. What’s not to love?

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