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Straighten Up Your Financial House

This article was originally published in the Winter 2009 issue of Moving Business Forward for the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.  To download the PDF of this article click HERE.


Is your financial house in order? From time to time, it's good to spruce things up a bit. Use some of the following to make the task a little more orderly:

Clean the "attic." That's the spot where you have stored items such as old, unused credit cards; nearly empty bank accounts; or savings bonds you forgot to cash in. Close them out or cash them in.

Refurnish your credit "room." This can include refinancing your mortgage while mortgage rates remain low, transferring credit card balances to lower-rate alternatives, or utilizing a home equity line that offers a low rate and tax-deductible interest. You will appreciate the new "look" you create. It can be especially pleasing to empty the "room" of some credit commitments by paying them off completely, thus giving your overall budget more breathing space.

Consider a complete renovation. Is your savings plan sufficient to meet your short- and long-term goals? You may require different tactics.

Look at future "housing" needs. What accommodations have you made for your retirement? If you expect to be relying on government benefits alone, you may want to consider opening an additional retirement account to supplement your income.

Solidify your "foundation." Now may be a good time to review your life insurance policies. The plan you established years ago may need updating to meet your current needs. Setting up an annual review with your insurance professional can be instrumental in ensuring the adequacy of your coverage.

Protect your home. Update your homeowners policy and make a videotape of your home-both inside and out-as well as your valuables and add to it as the need arises.

Dust off your tax records. The time when you will need them will be here before you know it. You may also want to speak with your tax professional regarding any changes you need to make to brighten your tax picture before filing your return.

Establish a regular "maintenance" program. If you haven't done so previously, set up a budget. Make "paying yourself first" - putting a set amount into your savings and investments every month - a priority.

Analyze your current spending, and plan ahead for large expenses.  It is always more relaxing to live in a clean and orderly home. By taking these eight steps, your financial "home" will become an inviting, enjoyable corner of your life!