Spring is officially here – a time for regrowth, renewal and of course, spring cleaning. While figuring out how to best clean the dust from the ceiling fan, you may want to consider a financial refresh as part of your annual spring-cleaning routine. Include the steps below as part of your yearly plan to get your funds in order.
1) Schedule your free credit report requests
Once a year, you can request a free credit report from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). While you can choose to order all three reports at once, you can also order one report at a time. By requesting each report separately (for example, one every four months), you can monitor your credit report throughout the year.
With your credit report in hand, you can start the process of reporting errors and repairing bad credit. Each report contains information on how to report incorrect entries, which is typically a straightforward matter of writing a letter to the credit agency explaining the discrepancy. The agency has 60 days to follow up with the reporting company about the error. If no evidence is presented on the entry in question from the company, it will be removed from your credit report.
2) Review and throw away old paperwork
Though conventional wisdom states that you should hold on to all financial paperwork for seven years, there are many items you can shred much earlier without worry. Plus, proper disposal of financial paperwork can help prevent identity theft.
- ATM and bank deposit receipts – shred after they appear on bank statements.
- Pay stubs – shred after matching them with your tax statements.
- Utility statements – shred once you have paid them.
- Credit card statements – shred once you check for them for accuracy.
Prevent paper clutter in the first place by enrolling in electronic statements and bills when possible.
3) Create a plan to pay off debt
If you’re facing large debt or overdue payments, your first instinct may be to ignore it or deal with it later. That typically makes things worse and leads to more stress down the line. Consider strategies that include affordable payment options that work with your current financial situation.
- First, collect and review your bills to make sure you understand how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Rank and prioritize paying off higher interest debt first.
- Second, contact your lender(s) to see if alternative or extended payment options are available. You may be able to change your due date so that a payment can be made closer to when you receive your income.
- Third, explore refinancing options like a personal loan to save on interest and consolidate multiple debts into one monthly payment.
Prevent overspending in the future by taking a close look at your credit card purchases over the past couple of months. If you’re looking to cut back, try breaking down and identifying necessary expenses vs. wants. A simple strategy is to set aside a monthly budget for non-essential purchases and don’t go past that amount.
4) Create and identify a place for everything
Does this sound familiar? You get back from a Target run only to find you already have two or three of the same item you just purchased. Not knowing where anything is can result in duplicate purchases. Organizing and having an exact place for everything can save you time and money in the future.
The same thing applies to your bills. Spring is a perfect time to organize your bills, statements, deposits and payment schedules into a format and routine that works for you. Create a filing system that is in one place and easy to maintain.
Finally, one of the best investments you can make to start your organization journey is to talk to an expert. If you are dealing with paying off multiple credit card bills or other debts, reach out to one of the loan specialists here at Credit Direct. Our representatives can help you organize and consolidate your debt into one affordable monthly payment. We have the personal loan options you need to save money and pay off debt faster.