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Spring Clean Your Finances


organize-financesSpring cleaning shouldn't just be about tidying up your home. It's a great time to get your finances in order and clean up any messes left behind by holiday debt or tax season. With a little effort you can get all your papers and receipts organized. You might just find extra cash for that summer vacation!

Toss Your Paper Mess

Throw out those piles of credit card statements, bank statements, utility bills and receipts that are more than a year old. Make sure to keep tax returns and save supporting documents for at least seven years. When getting rid of financial documents, shred them using a crosscut shredder to foil identity theft.

And to prevent more paper from piling up, ditch paper statements and switch to electronic bills.

Eliminate the eMess

Switching to electronic invoices for monthly bills is the first step to staying organized. But all those payment confirmation codes and passwords can become as cumbersome as the paper process they replaced. Try using a website like Billeo (www.billeo.com), which offers a free Bill Pay Assistant. Billeo allows people to pay more than 19,000 types of bills, including rent, taxes, medical bills and even water delivery charges, with a debit or credit card. It sends reminders when bills are due and automatically organizes receipts, so you needn't dig through mounds of paper or worry about forgetting passwords.

Check Your Credit Score

Every time you buy a car or house, apply for a loan or get a credit card, your credit score gets checked. Your score is a number that helps lenders predict creditworthiness and is based on information from credit bureaus. This information often can be incorrect due to mistakes or identity theft.

You can make sure your credit score is correct by checking it for free at a new website called Credit Karma (www.creditkarma.com), which provides free access to your TransUnion New Account Score, VantageScore and Auto Insurance Score. It also provides a Credit Report Card tool that analyzes your credit score by five key components (credit card utilization, length of credit history, on-time payment history, total accounts and credit inquiries), identifying areas for improvement.  

Budget and Plan

Spring is about fresh starts. It's a great time to get real about your finances by establishing a budget and sticking to it. Start by getting a complete view of your finances. Consider using a free online tool like Mint.com, which allows you see all your financial accounts in one place and automatically categorizes your spending. You can use the site to establish a spending budget and it helps you stick to it by sending e-mail or text alerts about large purchases, late fees, bounced checks or if you go over budget. It even offers money-making suggestions to help you save more.

By establishing goals and tracking spending you can save for the things you want in life and avoid debt later.



Article Courtesy of StatePoint Media

 

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