A Holiday Financial House Cleaning

So, all of this “fiscal cliff” talk is just about ready to make me a little crazy. Every year, there’s some new crisis which Congress has to avert — and usually (with all respect to our legislators), they let us down.

This year … well, the White House and Republican leaders remain far apart (as of this writing) on whether to raise taxes for the “rich”, bringing talks aimed at avoiding the dreaded cliff to a halt. And, while preparing to watch football, I saw that both sides used the Sunday political shows to accuse the other of refusing to compromise on taxes. “We’re nowhere,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

And everyone, everywhere, is warning of the consequences if things don’t change this month. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Regardless, do NOT allow yourself to walk into 2013 without a tax-reduction plan. And, of course, that’s somewhat self-serving … but it doesn’t mean it’s untrue.

And here’s a great place for you to start …

A Holiday Financial House Cleaning

If you’re like most people, I bet that when you get your homeowner’s insurance renewal notice, you quickly glance at the price — and renew it.  You renew it simply because you don’t have the time to search around for better prices.

In my experience, working with family finances for YEARS, I’ve learned that most people have a good sense of what needs to be done to improve their finances but they simply cannot find the time.

So here’s my proposed solution for you:  Take a day off work before the jingle bells stop ringing, and get some financial stuff
done (finally).

In fact, many financial tasks simply cannot be completed in the evening or on the weekend.  By taking a day off work, you can contact people who may only be available at regular business hours.

On top of the true bottom-line impact a day like this could create, there is, of course, the “mental health” aspect of it all. HR professionals often recommend taking a mental health day, from time to time — well, call this your “Fiscal Health” Day.

Possible tasks to consider accomplishing on your day off:

1. Dump your savings account with a puny interest rate and open a high-yield savings account. If you’re older, look into an annuity.
2. Get quotes for cheaper insurance: health, life, auto, house, and any other insurance. And you can even do a little calculation to determine how much you could save by changing your deductible.
3. Complete the most important (but not as obviously-pressing) financial tasks like making a will. Like your taxes, this is best done with a professional, by the way.
4. If you’re carrying credit card debt, call the companies and ask them to reduce your credit card interest rates. Believe it or not–they’ll often say yes! Take time to develop and formulate a good plan to get out of credit card debt.  Find or prepare a debt reduction plan.
5. Get more organized with your finances by shopping around for and using a good personal finance software program.
6. Review your budget, get caught up on your budget, or learn how to budget.
7. Shop around for the best online broker.  Be sure you’re getting the best price for your stock trades.
8. Make energy-efficient changes to your home and lifestyle.
9. Find a good second-hand store to shop at instead of the local department store.
10. Set up automatic payments for your bills to be sure you avoid late payments.
11. Google It.  Use the phrase “how to save money”, and then fill in the blank “on groceries”, “on gasoline”, “on kitchen expenses”, “on babies” …
12. Sell stuff on Ebay or Craigslist. Look for junk lying around the house and list it on one of these sites.

Undoubtedly, there are more things which can go on this list, if you’re industrious about it. But simply put, I’m hoping to give you “permission” to see your financial health in a similar light as you see your mental health.

Thanks, again, for your time in reading my thoughts. And we thrive based on your referrals, and are truly grateful for them. We love to hear from our clients.  Feel free to call us or send us a note, or make an appointment at our Xenia Accounting Office

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