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Be Wise With Money
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12 Months to a More Organized Financial Life
December 15, 2015 | Ashley Tate, excerpted from Thrivent magazine
Keeping your finances in order doesn't require countless hours. Set aside just one hour a month (60 minutes out of the 43,200 in a 30-day month!). That’s all it takes to get your finances in better shape by year's end.
Our calendar of to-dos makes it easy to get your financial life in order
JANUARY: Review retirement savings options
- Consider rolling balances from previous employers into an individual retirement account (IRA), which can make retirement savings easier to manage.1 Talk with your Thrivent Financial representative to see what works with your goals and specific situation.
FEBRUARY: Protect the people you love
- Check to see if your beneficiary information on insurance contracts and investment and retirement accounts is updated. This is especially important if you’ve had a major change, like a marriage, divorce or death. Just call the company (see your contract for the phone number) to find out.
MARCH: Prepare for a spring break getaway
- Notify credit card companies that you’ll be on vacation. Otherwise, they might view out-of-the-ordinary charges as suspicious and put a block on cards.
APRIL: Make sure your taxes are right
- If you got a refund, use it wisely. But remember it’s money that could have gone toward retirement, into an emergency fund or to pay down debt. If you think you need to adjust your W-4 to take out less, work with a tax advisor and then with your human resources department to change the form.
MAY: Keep paperwork safe
- Find important papers (will, passport, and the like) and put them somewhere secure, like a fireproof box or bank safe deposit box.
- Also look for other key documents, like financial statements and insurance contracts. Can you find them? If not, think about a new organizing system.
JUNE: Set up automatic bill pay
- Now that paperwork is in one spot, cut paper bills in half – or more – by signing up for auto-pay. If some don’t allow that, create a calendar reminder to pay electronically on the due date. (Bonus: Paying 10 bills electronically saves nearly $60 annually).
JULY: Update auto & home insurance
- Tell your home insurance company about any updates to your home, like a new roof or new wiring, which may lower premiums.
- Save on auto premiums by dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older cars. (Just keep liability coverage). Rule of thumb: Drop full coverage if it costs 10% or more of the vehicle’s value.
- Compare auto and home rates at netquote.com.
AUGUST: Take stock of big-picture finances
- Look at how much you have in retirement accounts and college savings.
- Add up how much life insurance you have, along with disability income insurance and long-term care coverage if you’re older than 50.
- Make an appointment for next month with your Thrivent Financial representative or target a time to call the Thrivent Financial Guidance Team.
SEPTEMBER: Take action on big-picture finances
- Have the meeting with your financial representative that you set up last month, or make the call to the Thrivent Financial Guidance Team (888-834-7428), to review financial strategies, share concerns and ask questions.
OCTOBER: Use up your flexible spending account (FSA)
- Submit receipts for reimbursement and plan how to use remaining funds by Dec. 31 (many plans give additional time to spend FSA money).
NOVEMBER: Draft or update your will & other documents
- If you have a will, power of attorney or health care directive, look to see if they are still what you want. If you don’t have those items in place, take time this month to get them started. Ask friends for references for a good estate-planning attorney.
DECEMBER: Make it a month of giving
- You may give during the year, but if you haven’t, finish annual giving before year’s end.
- Keep receipts together so you can take the right deductions come tax time.
Read this entire article from the December 2015 issue of Thrivent magazine.
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1There may be benefits to leaving your account in your employer plan, if allowed. You will continue to benefit from tax deferral, there may be investment options unique to your plan, there is a possibility for loans, and distributions are penalty free if you terminate service at age 55+.
Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent.