Finally, it’s spring. It’s time for an annual cleanup – of our tax, insurance and budgeting needs.
Now we can open the windows and enjoy the sunshine. We spend the winter months here in Indiana tucked away indoors, trying to stay warm by the fire and hoping snowfalls won’t be heavy enough to require back-straining shoveling.
So while we put aside the snow shovel and dust off the lawnmower, the deskwork chores of family finances await:
1. Taxes. As April 15 approaches, make sure that you have your taxes either completed or have a good idea of their status. If you work with a tax preparer, stay in contact with him or her, and know whether they need any further documents or information.
If your taxes are done and have been submitted, properly file them away. A good rule of thumb is to keep five to six years of past returns and corresponding documents. While everyone wants an uncluttered home, making space for organized records is very important.
2. Insurance. As the temperature rises, many families plan a summer vacation. The kids are out of school and many families will hit the road for a trip. Which brings up the question of when the last time you reviewed your auto insurance? What about your homeowners insurance?
We typically look at these policies when we make a large change, for example buying a new car or house. Well, if it’s been a few years since you walked onto a car lot, then it is a good idea to review your policy limits and make sure they still provide the proper coverage for what you own.
3. Budget. Budgets are important – one of the keys to successful saving. Many make a New Year’s resolution to plan a budget for the coming year. They craft a careful plan for the next 12 months and pledge to stick with their budget. But like most resolutions, this one often falls to the wayside, never to be heard from again.
However, it’s not too late to get back on the wagon with your budget. Do a review of the past three months and see how you fared. Did any unforeseen expenses affect your plan? Was there an unexpected home repair needed? Or maybe a wedding invitation arrived and you had to attend, which involved expensive travel? These are all things that might throw off a budget.
But with a few tweaks to spending habits, you can still keep to the budget. I’ve said this numerous times, but it bears repeating: We are all on a financial journey. We can’t allow unanticipated costs or changes to our financial picture derail the plan we each set out for ourselves and our families.
As we put our winter sweaters away and start spring cleaning, use this opportunity to give yourself a financial check-up. By periodically reviewing your financial life, you can stay on track for your long-term goals.
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Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, CFP, is the managing partner of the Financial Enhancement Group LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm in Indiana. He teaches financial planning at Purdue University and is the host of Consider This with Big Joe Clark, found on WQME and iTunes. He is a Registered Principal offering Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services through World Equity Group, Inc, member FINRA/SIPC. Big Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (765) 640-1524. Follow him on Twitter at @Big Joe_Clark and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FinancialEnhancementGroup.
Securities offered through and by World Equity Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services can be offered by the Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated.
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