Putting Your Financial House In Order

So you're getting ready for the fall cleaning? Are you fixing up the yard for cooler weather? Have you changed your closets yet with warm clothing?

This is also a great time to give your financial house a good makeover, too. With the economy and our personal finances in a squeeze, every little but helps. Psalm 37:16 says: A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. So let's put that little we have to good use!

* Take a few minute to peruse the situation. Sit down for a little while one evening with your financial documents in hand and figure out where your money is going. Not knowing the current state of your money is like going out to the car and hoping against hope that there's gas in it. Knowledge is power when it comes to your finances.

* Double-check your payments and balances. Make sure you know exactly what you owe and where, and that you're not paying for something you're not using. Will paying off a certain balance put you in a better financial situation? Can you switch something to get better interest of more benefits?

* Consult a debt calculator. If you have serious debt, consider plugging some numbers into a debt calculator. You can find one on-line or through your bank. All you need is your loan information, your credit card statements and your annual household income before and after taxes. These numbers will help you assess the best ways to reduce and eliminate your obligations.

* Check your insurance rates. If it's been a while, you may be paying much more than you need to for home, renters, car or health insurance. Do some investigating and see what other companies are offering and what their incentives are for switching. This may save you more money than you realize.

* Look at your withholding numbers. Make sure you're not withholding too much from your taxes each year. While getting a nice tax return seems like a great idea, would you rather have your money working for you all year or for the government? If there are any life-altering changes in the past year or you want extra money in your paycheck, review your withholdings.

* Figure out if you can be setting some money aside. If your financial makeover goes well, you might be able to put more each month into savings programs that can really work for you. Allocate funds for retirement, college and holiday spending, and make sure you have at least three months' pay in savings in case of an emergency.


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