Financial Planning Friday: 7 Steps to financial organization!January 5th, 2018 by Anchor Bay Capital's Investment Team
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2018! This year, I will be writing Financial Planning Friday each week based on a monthly financial planning topic. Throughout the month, I will be providing education and resources that cover different aspects of the topic. I will also be promoting a live online event toward the end of the month so that we can go more in depth discussing questions and so that I can demonstrate the tools that Anchor Bay Capital offers to help you with your financial plan. January’s theme is Financial Organization. There is no time like the beginning of the year to start fresh, so here are 7 things you can do right now to get organized make 2018 the year you make your best financial decisions.
1. Check your Credit Report
Each year you are entitled to a free credit report from the 3 credit agencies. You can request your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Now is a great time to get your report and review it to make sure it is accurate. With so much of our daily life exposed through technology, fraud and identity theft are continually increasing and you need to make sure you know that your credit report reflects your financial choices. Here’s what to look for:
- Identity errors
- Accurate account information and status
- Accurate timing of payments
It is also a great idea to check your credit score. Your FICO credit score is what lenders will look at to determine your worthiness for credit. Many banks and credit cards provide your score to you as a free service now or you can buy your score through a credit agency.
2. Check for your unclaimed money
Did you know that someone may have been trying to pay you but couldn’t find you? Last year I found out that I had $400 sitting in unclaimed property that was just waiting for me to find it. Luckily, my sister-in-law did a search for fun and gave me a heads up. This was a rewards program that I had signed up for years ago and then I totally forgot about it. I had accumulated $400 in rewards from shopping and never accessed the funds. As the years went by the company turned the money over to the state as unclaimed property. It’s worth checking. Start by searching at the state level here: https://www.unclaimed.org/
3. Know your net worth
You can’t get anywhere if you don’t have a starting point. If you are going to track your goals in 2018, you need to know where you are now. A balance sheet shows a snapshot of your assets compared to your liabilities. The difference is your net worth. Through Anchor Bay Capital’s Financial Planning Portal, you can pull up your balance sheet at any time. Or contact me for a template. Review your balance sheet to make sure that it includes all of your assets and all of your debts. You should also make sure that they are listed with the correct ownership if you have a spouse/partner.
4. Create a personal income statement
How much money did you make last year? How much did you spend? How much did you invest? How much did you save? Do you have any money left over? You don’t have to get too technical, but these are good questions to ask. Creating a personal income statement is part of our financial planning process and I recommend that we review it on an annual basis.
5. Emergency funds
If you have an emergency this year and need money, where is it going to come from? Now is a good time to set some money aside in cash. If you don’t have the cash, it is important to set a savings target and keep some credit available as a last option for money.
6. Organize your important documents and passwords
If you don’t have an organization system, call us and we can help! Now is the best time of year to go through your files and discard what is not needed and add what is. It is also a good idea to check into password management services to keep your online data secure.
7. Update your beneficiaries
You need to do this once a year. Do a quick check on any financial accounts, insurance policies or company benefits to find out if your beneficiaries are up to date. If you are using our financial planning portal, we can generate a one-page beneficiary report upon request for you to review.
Pace yourself with these tasks, but if you get these done, you should feel like you are ahead of the game! Organizing your money will give you a benchmark to track your progress throughout the year.
Make sure to check in on the next posts this month as we discuss how to really set financial goals and how to organize your investments for 2018.