The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

April 6, 2013

'Big Joe' Clark: Spring financial cleaning begins

Finally it’s spring time and we can begin opening the windows and enjoying the sunshine. So often we spend the winter months tucked away indoors trying to stay warm by the fire and hoping it doesn’t snow enough to require the shovel to be taken from the garage. While we put the shovel aside and dust off the lawnmower, we can also use this time to give our finances a tune-up.

As April 15 approaches we need to make sure that we have our taxes either completed or have a good idea of their status. If you work with a tax preparer make sure you stay in contact with him or her and know if they need any further documents or information to insure your taxes are submitted in time. If your taxes are done and have been submitted then it’s a good idea to make sure they are properly filed away. A good rule of thumb is to typically keep 5 to 6 years of past returns and corresponding documents. While we want to have a clean living space, we should also have organized records.

As the temperate rises many families begin planning a summer vacation. The kids are out of school and many families will hit the road for a trip. Which brings up the question of when the last time you reviewed your auto insurance? What about your homeowners insurance? We typically look at these policies when we make a large change, for example buying a new car or house. Well if it’s been a few years since you walked onto a car lot then it would be a good idea to review your policy limits and make sure they still provide the proper coverage for the underlying asset.

We talk about the importance of creating a budget and how it can be one of the keys to successful saving. Many will create a financial New Year’s resolution to plan out a budget for the year. But like most resolutions, we often let them fall to the wayside never to be heard from again. However, it’s not too late to get back on the wagon with your budget and do a review of the past three months and see how you’ve done. Were there any unforeseen expenses that affect your plan? Was there an unexpected home repair that needed to be done or maybe a wedding that you would like to attend? These are all things that might throw off a budget, but with a few tweaks to spending habits there’s little reason why the budget could not still be kept. I’ve said this numerous times, but it bears repeating – we are all on a financial journey. We can’t allow unanticipated costs or changes to our financial picture to derail the plan we each set out for ourselves and/or our families.

As we put our winter sweaters away and start spring cleaning, use this opportunity to give yourself a financial check-up. By periodically reviewing our financial lives we can make sure we stay on track for our long-term goals.

Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, whose column is published Sundays, is a certified financial planner. He can be reached at bigjoe@yourlifeafterwork.com or 640-1524.

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