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Home » Banks, Credit, Identity Theft, IRA's

8 Personal Finance Spring Cleaning Ninja Moves

Last updated by on 10 Comments

Ahh…. Spring is in the air. Birds chirping, children frollicking in the park, opening day baseball, tax returns, my dog shedding clumps of hair, non-stop rain, sinus allergies…..focus, G.E., back to the positives…. flowers, ice cream, personal finance domination.

Something about this season always makes me want to de-clutter things, particularly my finances. Here’s a list of the things that I’m doing this Spring (and typically do every Spring) to keep my finances in order. All can be accomplished in an afternoon. It will be time well spent.

1. Shred Old Financial Documents

financial spring cleaningDe-cluttering your finances starts with reducing paper clutter. I’m conservative in keeping tax records going back 7 years and about 1 year on everything else. Beyond that, I have been shredding everything. I recently shredded enough documents to fill 5 paper grocery bags! I’d recommend getting a cross-cutting shredder that shreds 8 or more pieces at the same time and also shreds old plastic cards, like the Fellowes Powershredder. If you’re throwing this stuff in the trash, un-shredded, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.

2. Check your Free Credit Report and Clean Up Any Discrepancies

AnnualCreditReport.com (the real-deal website, mandated by the federal government) offers you three free credit reports annually. Space them out every 4 months to check for discrepancies and avoid taking any unnecessary credit score hits. For more on annualcreditreport.com, check out my post on how to make the most out of these free credit reports.

3. It’s Budget Cleanup Time!

budgetingYes, I know you didn’t want to hear this one, but it’s oh so important. I wrote a pretty comprehensive post that includes a budget spreadsheet that I designed and used personally. Check it out, and see where the holes in the bucket are. Then plug them ASAP.

4. Stop Settling for Paltry Interest Rates on Short-Term Cash Holdings

For your emergency savings fund and other short-term cash holdings, you might as well earn best in industry rate yields on your savings. Right now, that is around 1.25%, but it changes frequently. The 5 online banks that I usually see at the top of the list for savings rate yields are Discover Bank, EverBank, and Capital One 360. All offer a pretty comprehensive product offering if you want to expand beyond a savings account.

5. Move Long-Term Investment Funds From Savings & Checking Accounts to Investment Accounts

investment fundsI give myself low marks for letting long-term investment funds sit in my bank account. With the market run-up, I missed out on thousands of dollars worth of capital gains because I simply wasn’t keeping up on moving those assets over to investment accounts. Don’t get caught sitting on interest rates of 1% or below and having inflation eat away at it.

6. Consolidate Your Brokerages

Having too many brokerage accounts is a great way to easily lose track of your financial allocations. I recently switched my IRA from ETrade to TradeKing. More recently, my wife rolled over her Roth and Traditional 401K from her last job to a TradeKing Roth and Traditional IRA. TradeKing offers IRA’s without annual fees or inactivity fees. And trades are just $4.95.

For non-retirement accounts, I also recommend TradeKing and Vanguard (if you are in to trading ETF’s).

7. Re-Allocate Investments

investment allocationOnce you have consolidated brokerage accounts, it’s time to do a little re-allocation. With the market having the run that it has had, now would be a great time to go through  your stocks, mutual funds, and other investments and make sure that the asset allocation is re-distributing to the correct portions. This might require moving some money around. In my case, it also means moving my accounts around.

8. Get the Best Debit & Credit Card Rewards

First off, cancel any credit cards you are not paying in full each month. Glad we cleared that up. If you ARE going to effectively use a credit card, make sure it is one that is giving good rewards. I average about 2% cash back on the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express (check out my Costco American Express review for more info).

I also get 6% cash back from the best grocery rewards card on the market, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

What are you Doing to Spruce Up your Finances this Spring?


About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


10 Comments »
  • Jedrzej Jakubowski says:

    Great advice in the post. I especially like the point about getting rid of paper documents.

    I also tend to sell all unnecessary stuff that I amassed during winter. Unwanted books, gadgets, DVDs.

  • Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says:

    Thanks for the reminder to take care of old paperwork.

    We use Smarty Pig for our emergency fund since it’s currently making 2.01% and is FDIC insured.

  • Ken says:

    I just completed my net worth statement. I do it every quarter. It tells you what’s going up and what’s coming down.

  • Stephen says:

    Great advice. This is exactly what I was imagining when I read the title of this article. It’s all about consolidating your tools — accounts and credit cards — and analyzing everything. One thing I would add is that it’s very easy to analyze your budget when you purchase everything with your debit and credit cards and connect them to mint.com

  • Holidays says:

    Great advice. This is exactly what I was imagining when I read the title of this article. It’s all about consolidating your tools — accounts and credit cards — and analyzing everything. One thing I would add is that it’s very easy to analyze your budget when you purchase everything with your debit and credit cards and connect them to mint.com
    *******************************************************************
    anderson

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks for the great advice, and the link to the budget tool. I’ll need that soon.

    Here’s a free service to assist those of us letting go of the physical clutter. You can go online to the Vietnam Vets and schedule a day for them to pick up your gently used stuff, rain or shine:

    http://www.scheduleapickup.com/

    The pick-up service is free, and they leave a receipt to submit for tax deductions, along with a great bright yellow plastic bag for future donations. They provide options to fit diverse housing arrangements – you can request to have them call to remind you of pickups, knock when they arrive, or my favorite, the stealth pick-up – they take the boxes off of my front porch without so much as ringing the door bell. Afterward, from time to time I get an e-mail from them saying, essentially, “we need your stuff,” and it prompts me to look around and consider what I’m willing to let go of in exchange for more space and time.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Michelle – that’s an excellent tip. Thanks for sharing. For those curious, the link Michelle provided is legit – run by the VVA.

  • NANDAN says:

    High cash advance loan fees are avoidable. Borrow only what is needed to pay for an expense. Sadly, some people borrow a little extra to help finance a shopping trip or vacation.

  • Ksams says:

    Would love to see some Canadian examples! Do you know of a similar blog that you like for your Canadian followers?

  • BK39 says:

    Every six months or so, I run the IRS Withholding calculator to make sure that my withholdings are matching up with my earnings.

    http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator

    After it runs its calculations the calculator tells you how to adjust your withholdings to reduce the risk of over or underpaying your taxes.

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