'Tis the season of spring cleaning – my favorite time of year! What? You disagree? Well how about right AFTER spring cleaning? Coming home to a freshly cleaned house is a wonderful way to come home. It leaves you feeling relaxed and stress-free…that is, until you start to think about other areas of your life causing you stress.
Solution: Spring clean those other areas of your life as well! Organize your space at work, clean out your email inbox and…here’s the doozy: clean up your finances! I know cleaning up your finances may sound like a daunting task, but if you tackle it the right way you can get it done in no time! Well, not quite “no time,” but how does 6 days sound?
I bring you the 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances CHALLENGE!
Day 1: Consolidate Your Accounts
Especially if you have moved around a lot in recent years, you may have checking and savings accounts that you no longer use. While it’s easy to keep unused accounts open, you may be accruing fees and you are definitely not putting those funds to good use. Even if you only have a small amount in these accounts, it’s time to close those accounts! If you have moved and do not have a branch near you, you can generally request that your account be closed in writing. Contact the financial institution to find out exactly what information they require.
Additionally, if you have changed jobs you may have an inactive 401(k). It’s time to roll that into an IRA! You will first have to open said IRA so that you actually have an account to roll your funds into. Then contact the company that runs your old 401(k) and ask them to transfer the funds. In some cases, it might be best to leave your funds where they are. Consider talking to a financial consultant who can talk you through the process and give you tips on managing your retirement fund.
Day 2: Get Organized
Organization...that dreaded word. The good news is that since you have just consolidated your funds into fewer accounts, you have less to organize! If you have a giant stack of “important” papers somewhere in your house, it’s time to tackle them! Go through everything and figure out what you need to keep and what you should throw away or shred.
If you have a filing system in place, your work today will be a little bit easier, but you should still go through everything and get rid of things you no longer need. If you don’t have a filing system…today you must figure one out!
Organization Day is not a fun day for many people. To make it easier in the future, switch to electronic documents whenever possible. Enroll all of your accounts in Online Banking with electronic bank statements and Bill Pay. This way, all of your statements and bills will still be filed, but instead of ending up in a messy stack on your table, they will be organized for you in a secure electronic format!