Spring is finally here! It’s time to open up the windows, let in some fresh air and de-clutter your house... and your finances.
“The stuffiest place in your house tends to be that old file drawer crammed with financial statements, and much of it you don’t need...like that credit card statement from 1996,” says Gail Godesky, First Vice President and Area Manager. “April is the perfect time to apply the tried-and-true ‘keep, toss’ method of spring cleaning to your financial life.”
Godesky offers a few tips for those who want to “spring clean” their finances:
Your Budget – Even if you haven’t “used” it since you got married or moved into your new house, it is important to keep your budget handy and refer to it often. As one of your “spring cleaning” chores, take an honest look at your budget and find out what you need to adjust for 2015. If you still have a line item for your “eight-track of the month club” subscription, you know it’s been too long.
Your Current Credit Report – According to the FTC, 5% of consumers have errors on their credit report that could hurt them financially. It is important to review these documents periodically so you can find and correct any mistakes. You can go to annualcreditreport.com up to three times a year to review and print your free credit report (once from each of the three federal credit bureaus). Create a file and update it once every four months with a new report (compare it to the others if you want) and make sure you’re in the clear.
More of Your Money – You just filed your taxes and you’re expecting a BIG refund. Congratulations, but wouldn’t it be better to have that “extra” money spread out through the year? If you got a promotion, bought a home or had a child in the last few years but haven’t adjusted your tax withholding, you’re letting Uncle Sam borrow quite a bit from you at your own expense. Talk to your tax advisor to see how much you should be taking out of each check for taxes, then you can decide what to do with the extra cash next month, not next year.
Old Financial Records – It is tempting to think that every single financial document is important enough to keep forever, but that is not the case. Since the IRS can look back six years in case of an audit, it is recommended to keep most tax-related documents (donations, large item sales, stock transactions, retirement account records, etc) for seven years. Beyond that, most of your paper records, like credit card and bank statements, insurance paperwork, etc. can be tossed (better yet, shredded) after one year. Feel free to get rid of transaction receipts (ATM, withdrawal/deposit slips, canceled checks, etc) as soon as you confirm the bank has accurately recorded the information.
Bad (Financial) Habits – We all have financial habits we’d like to break: spending too much on your daily coffee, “forgetting” to bring your lunch a few times a week or succumbing to the “need” for a designer handbag, to name a few. To break one bad habit, you need to start a good one. If you find yourself spending “extra” money, think about setting up an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month. If the money’s not there to spend, it will be there when you need it.
About The Provident Bank
The Provident Bank, (www.providentnj.com) an FDIC member community-oriented bank offering “Commitment you can count on” since 1839, is the wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS), which reported assets of $8.5 billion as of December 31, 2014. With $5.8 billion in deposits, The Provident Bank provides a comprehensive suite of financial products and services through its network of branches throughout northern and central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The Bank also provides fiduciary and wealth management services through its wholly owned subsidiary, Beacon Trust Company.