Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 2

by Stacy Tharp 8. May 2013

Clean Dollars

Welcome back to the 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge! In case you missed part 1, click here. Otherwise, we're on to day 3...

Day 3: Take a Look at Your Retirement Plan

Step 1: Do you have a retirement plan? If so, move on to step 2. If not, start one…right now! Never underestimate the power of compound interest. You can start by looking into retirement plans that your employer offers. There are often incentives associated with these accounts that make these investments worth your while. However, when you are first setting everything up, it’s smart to meet with a financial consultant. There are many things to take into consideration when saving for retirement and many factors that go into how much you should be putting away. A financial consultant can do all the hard work for you and talk you through the process of getting your account(s) set up.

Step 2: So you have a plan in place – great! Now when was the last time you reviewed your plan? Since the hard part is setting up your retirement plan, many people think that once this is done, they can sit back and relax for the next 40 years. Not true! It’s important to review your plan periodically to make sure you are making good progress, everything is still on track, and your plan accounts for any major life changes you have made. Our Retirement Planner Calculator is a good place to start to see if your plan is still a good one.

Day 4: Find Ways to Save Money

Today you will “audit” yourself to see what you are unwisely spending money on. Do you have all of the premium movie channels but rarely use them? Maybe you would be better off getting rid of the channels and instead subscribing to Netflix or taking advantage of Red Box or movies on demand. Or maybe you do subscribe to Netflix but never use it – time to say goodbye! The same goes for magazine and online subscriptions. It’s easy to continue subscribing to a product or service for $10 a month and seems not worth the trouble to get rid of it…but if you have 5 of these unused subscriptions, that’s $50 a month you could save by getting rid of everything.

Also, when was the last time you shopped around for insurance (car, home, health, etc.)? You may have done your research and gotten several quotes initially, but if it’s been awhile, things have probably changed and there’s a good chance you can lower your premiums.

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final part to the Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge!

Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 1

by Stacy Tharp 6. May 2013

Clean Up Your Finances

'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!

Ready for Day 3? Click Here.

 

7 Ways to Save Money Recycling

by Stacy Tharp 22. April 2013

Save Money Recycling

We recycle because it helps reduce waste and pollution. We recycle because it’s good for the environment. We recycle to make the world a better place for future generations. These are all good, selfless reasons to recycle, which is why many of us do it. But have you ever thought about what recycling can do specifically for YOU? Why not be kind to the environment AND save money recycling at the same time? Here are 7 ways you can do this:

1) Refill or return empty ink cartridges.

Bring your empty printer cartridges into participating Walgreens and they will refill them for $12.99 – generally much cheaper than purchasing a new cartridge. Alternatively, Office Depot and Staples give you member rewards dollars for bringing in your empty ink cartridges.

2) Put your old compact discs to good use.

Do you have a huge stack of old CDs from back in the day, before the age of iPods, smartphones and music streaming? They make great reflectors and can easily be attached to a child’s bike.

3) Trade in your old electronics.

Not sure what to do with your old cell phones and computers? Several retailers including Best Buy, Walmart and Target have trade-in programs in which you receive store credit for bringing in your old small electronics.

4) Recycle your wrapping paper.

After being used to wrap gifts, wrapping paper can then be used for things like textbook covers, scratch paper for making grocery lists and lots of other things that you would normally purchase. Click here for other creative ways to reuse wrapping paper.

5) Create your own Tupperware.

Before purchasing Tupperware, see what you can get out of old containers (yogurt, Chinese take-out, etc.) You might not get every shape and size you need, but it’s a good place to start!

6) Create new things out of your old clothes.

Whether your clothes no longer fit or have just lost their appeal, as long as the fabric is still in good shape you can make accessories such as bags or wallets. If this sounds too advanced for you, simply cut old jeans into shorts or use your old clothes as dust rags.

7) Join the Freecycle Network and get free stuff.

The Freecyle Network is a nonprofit movement of people dedicated to keeping quality items out of landfills. Join the group in your location for free and post items that you are trying to get rid of, as well as items you are looking for. You can often find things like furniture that people are trying to get rid of before a move and old toys from people whose children outgrew them.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

FREE Shred-It Day

Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

4 Free Money Saving Apps

 

 

Stacy Levin



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