Spring is right around the corner and our closets aren’t the only thing we should be decluttering. Our financial life, like our home, can drift into chaos if ignored for too long.
So, this year while you're working on clearing out the garage, try directing some of that energy towards your finances.
It's the little things that lay the foundation for the big things in our financial life.
In the first of this two part financial life series, we provide helpful tips on simple actions you can take to better organize your financial life.
Here's a list to help you get started.
Start off by knocking out two tasks at once by just throwing it away.
Junk drawer full of papers from 2005? Shred it.
Folders full of old to-do lists? Pitch them.
Stop shuffling stuff from one room to another, and start decluttering.
The days of bulky filing cabinets full of paperwork are no longer needed.
Need help shredding it?
We can help.
At Gg we offer free confidential shredding services at any time. Simply bring (or send) us your documents and we'll take care of the rest.
If you’re getting paper statements, consider switching to paperless delivery. Almost any statement you receive has the option to switch to a digital version.
This allows for convenient storage, easy access and never losing important documents.
We recommend storing your important documents digitally on the Raymond James Document Vault.
The Vault can be securely accessed through your online Raymond James Client Access or the Raymond James App.
We can help scan, shred, store and organize all your digital documents into custom folders specific to your preferences. Many of you already use the Vault, but if you have additional questions reach out to us anytime.
In the case of old photos and keepsakes, there are tons of services that can digitize your old photos and videos. For anything you simply can’t bear to part with, we recommend a portable, fireproof safe.
Less is more, especially when it comes to complexity in your financial life.
Consolidating accounts not only organizes and simplifies your finances, but it reduces your risk of identity theft.
The more accounts you have, the more there is to keep track of and the higher the chance of someone gaining access to your information.
Keep it simple: reduce statements, tax forms, logins, and passwords if possible.
Have multiple bank checking and savings accounts?
Consolidate them into one bank and simplify your life overnight.
Getting a clear picture of your financial life brings a fresh perspective and helps you prioritize what's important and discard or cancel what isn't.
Speaking of cancelling...
Subscription services provide an increased amount of convenience for our hectic lives.
Having our groceries delivered and Hulu on demand allow us to focus on more of what we want and less on unnecessary headaches.
But how many of these subscriptions do we really need?
How many go unused?
If you list every single subscription you pay for, whether monthly or annually, you probably have more than you think.
Between the video and music streaming, gym memberships, box subscriptions, landlines, antivirus software, hard drive backup services, Amazon deliveries, etc. – the list is extensive (and expensive).
Apply this litmus test and ask yourself:
Do I use this subscription; And does it make my life noticeably better?
If not, cancel it.
Next, click unsubscribe every time you open your email.
Is your email inbox stressing you out?
Do you have hundreds, if not thousands, of unread emails?
Its time to declutter that too. Anytime you get a promotional email that isn't relevant or important, click unsubscribe at the bottom of the email.
Many email services like Gmail & Outlook are able to unsubscribe you from these emails as well.
Cleaning out your inbox will not only reduce stress, it will ensure you don't miss the truly important emails.
If you don’t already, set up savings to automatically come out of your paycheck.
Automate recurring transfers and treat it just like you would a mortgage payment.
To boost emergency savings, transfer $50/week to your savings account.
Want to save more for retirement?
Automatically transfer a set amount to an IRA or investment account.
In addition to automating your savings, automate your necessary spending.
Set any recurring payments to automatically charge to your credit card. Take it one step further by automating your credit card pay-off each month.
This can easily be done on the website for your credit cards.
Automating behaviors like saving money and paying bills takes the temptation out of spending and ensures you actually do it.
Financial spring cleaning is a great time to get your credit cards in order as well as review your credit score and credit report.
Start with cancelling any unused cards and limiting your overall usage to two or three key cards with great benefits and reliable security protections. Questions about which card has the best benefits? We can help, give us a call.
You can obtain your official credit score from myfico.com and go to optoutprescreen.com to stop receiving credit card offers.
You can check your credit report for free once a year.
By checking your credit report once a year you can pick through your report and look for errors. If you find any, you can follow the simple process of disputing credit report errors. It’s free and requires little effort on your part.
You can monitor your credit history through apps like Credit Karma and Experian.
These apps not only provide updates about changes in your credit scores, but they also send alerts on suspicious patterns that might indicate identity theft.
If you haven't set up an automatic payment yet, log on to your credit card's website to do so now and take the risk of late payments or penalties off the table (we do recommend, however, reviewing these charges each month).
Lastly, take a personal inventory of your spending and obligations.
It's been said if you want to see your values look at your checkbook.
Does your checkbook show what you value most? Are you spending your money intentionally and on what's most important?
Same goes for your time. We've written earlier of the countless causes, events and get-together's we're too busy to attend, but agree to anyway.
How many of these are self-imposed? How many of are truly necessary?
Are you as free as you think?....As you should be?
Awareness is freedom.
Decluttering life's unnecessary obligations and cutting out the excess frees up time (and money) for what really matters.
A clean home and organized financial life don’t happen by mistake.
They only happen when you make them happen.
Set aside some time the next few months to spring clean your financial life and reap the rewards of peace of mind and purposeful spending.
Make financial life organization a practice, not a project.
Taking these small steps just once a year can help you manage your life rather than have your life manage you.
Stay tuned for next month's newsletter for part two where we take organizing your financial life to the next level.