CPA Tom Walpole offered some advice for your financial spring cleaning Monday on News 8 at Sunrise.
Wapole listed six areas to focus on as part of your financial spring cleaning.
The first is review your credit report. “Everybody is entitled to one free check a year with the the Credit Reporting Act,” said Walpole. “Go to annualcreditreport.com and check your credit report. One of the three credit agencies will let you know what’s going on there. See if anyone has opened any accounts under your name that you don’t know about. See if everything is proper. By law, they have to make corrections for that.”
The second tip is organize and/or shred your older financial documents. “Now is a good time,” Walpole said. “I’m doing it at my office right now. Things that have come in and people don’t need any more, I’m getting rid of them. People should do that at home too. Get your documents and see what’s important. For the unimportant things, throw them out. For the important ones, copy them and shred them. If they’re important, scan them first before you shred them. If you scan something, make a second copy because sometimes those little thumb drives will fail on you. Make sure you make two copies of those things when you scan them. They take up very little room.”
The third piece of advice is to record your financial passwords and store your records in a safe place. “With your passwords, use multiple passwords for one thing,” said Walpole. “Don’t let one key open every door. If someone gets your password and they can get into everything, that’s not a good thing. Get your password secure. Get your documents that are important scanned and put them somewhere secure. The other thing I would say is let someone who is trusted, and you know, know what your passwords are – maybe an attorney or friend or relative that’s very close, the executor of your will, so in case if anything does happen to you, they can get to these records that may be important down the road.”
The next tip Walpole suggested was review your budget. “Things have always changed for everybody year-to-year,” he noted. “This year we had the unexpected wind storm that took things out. That’s going to effect people’s budgets. We had the snow storm. Maybe you’re going to get a raise? That’s going to effect the income you have to spend. Make sure you budget in some savings for yourself. That’s an important thing to do.”
Walpole’s final two tips — set up automatic bill pay to create efficiency and help avoid missing payments, and pay off your holiday debt once and for all. He recommends creating a plan to pay off your credit card debt, or at least developing a stricter payoff plan.
For more information, you can always visit the New York State Society of CPAs website, click here.