Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be in Charge

5 Things You Can Do To…Make Sure You are Financially Fit

You know it’s important to get regular physical exams and take your car in for oil changes and tune-ups. But what are you doing to make sure your finances are in good shape too? The start of a new year is a great time to give your finances a check up, but it’s never too early or too late to make sure you’re properly managing your money. Here’s a checklist for conducting a simple, yet thorough financial self-examination.

  1. Periodically Review Your Accounts.
  2. Make sure you have-and have read-the most recent “disclosures” about your accounts. These descriptions of your account are like a contract with your financial institution. Knowing the features, fees and options as well as limitations-before you open the account and later as you conduct business-can prevent misunderstandings and costly mistakes.
  3. Get a free copy of your credit report. These reports, prepared by companies and credit bureaus, summarize your history of paying debts and other bills. If you apply for a loan, insurance or a job, or you want to rent an apartment, chances are your credit report will be reviewed for information about your financial reliability. But you should be reviewing copies of your credit report, too. One reason is to correct errors or omissions, which could damage your credit rating and, in the case of a loan or credit card application, cost you hundreds of dollars each year in interest or other charges.
  4. Look at how you’re spending money-and how you can do a better job. It’s easy to overspend in some areas and neglect other priorities such as reducing high interest debt, saving for a down payment on a car or a home, or putting away money for your retirement. We suggest you try any system-ranging from a computer based budget program to hand written notes-that will help you keep track of your spending cash each month and enable you to set and stick to limits you consider appropriate.
  5. Find new ways to simplify your financial life. There are many things you can do to make your banking, bill paying and other financial chores easier. Examples include: Organizing your personal and financial papers to make sure you and your family can quickly find what you need; Looking into consolidating accounts; signing up for direct deposit of your pay and benefit checks and other regular income; arranging for an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to cover a recurring expense such as a mortgage loan or utility bill and exploring banking and bill paying by phone or online, which not only saves time and money (instead of writing and mailing checks) but also can help you monitor your account more efficiently than waiting for monthly statements in the mail.

These ideas can help you save time, reduce stress, eliminate clutter, lower the fees you pay, and maybe even help you earn a little extra on your savings and investments.

This article was provided by the FDIC Consumer News