Getting Your House in Order
The imminent departure of winter weather is a reminder to get your house in order. The lengthening days can provide a great time to “spring clean” your finances as well as your home.
Organize Tax Documents
First up to tackle: taxes. The sooner in the spring that you begin to compile and organize your tax paperwork, the simpler things will be at filing time.
First, take a look at last year’s return. Unless your job, living situation, or financial situation has changed since you last filed your taxes, chances are you can expect to need the same set of forms, schedules, and receipts this year as you did last year.
Remember, this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice, so make sure to consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.
If you don’t freelance or own a business, you may only need W-2(s), 1099-INT(s) (or perhaps 1099- DIVs or 1099-Bs), or a Form 1098 if you pay a mortgage. You will also need your 1099-MISCs, and if you don’t use a payment-processing software, you will need to compile every bit of documentation you can find that’s related to business expenses: store and restaurant receipts, mileage records, utility bills, and so on. And, of course, there’s the Affordable Care Act; if you got coverage through your state or federal marketplace, Form 1095-A is needed to fill out Form 8962.1
If you’re still working, take some time to check your paycheck withholdings. If it’s been a few years, it’s possible that you might need to make changes, especially if you’ve gotten married or gained dependents.
Review Budget and Savings Goals
Have you adjusted your yearly budget to account for new objectives, new obligations, and your current goals? The year ahead may include summer vacations, back-to-school spending, and the holiday season. Take some time now to prepare.
Cancel Unneeded Subscriptions
Take a look at and evaluate any subscriptions you have, such as streaming services, security tools, delivery services, or periodicals (both digital and print). Spring is a good time to consider what you use and cancel what you don’t.
Now would also be a good time to check with other services, such as your phone, cable, or Internet providers, to see if there’s a more economical plan. It’s common for such plans to expire and move to default billing after a while, so you might be paying more than you need to.
Review Credit Report
If you plan on moving, purchasing a car or home, or taking out a personal loan this year, you’ll want your credit score in good shape. Your score is impacted by recently accrued debt, late payments, hard credit inquiries, identity theft, and more. Now’s the time to check your credit report.
You are entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You might as well request a report from all three at once. As the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes, you can do this at annualcreditreport.com.
Check Expiration Dates
If you have accumulated credit card points, loyalty benefits, and frequent flyer miles, take a look at when you need to use them, since they do typically expire. Frequent flyer miles in particular might come in handy if you are planning a trip in the summer.
Shred Old Documents
Old bills and financial documents are just the sort of things that scammers and identity thieves want to get their hands on. The only way to be completely certain that you are safe is the total destruction of those documents once their practical use has come to an end. This goes for old computers and handheld devices, as well; it’s important to not only recycle old laptops, desktops, and handheld devices properly, but to destroy hard drives and chips that may contain remnants of old files, which could be recovered by tech-savvy identity scammers.2,3
Need some help getting your Financial House in order? We would love to help. Schedule a Free Financial Plan Assessment:
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Investing involves risk, and the return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
Image by Ylanite https://pixabay.com/users/ylanite-2218222/