Stress over financial matters can affect both your health and your family’s well-being. To ease stress, take charge of your financial health with the following tips.
Gather your documents and store them safely. Over time, you accumulate all sorts of important papers from medical histories to bills and insurance information. It’s a good idea to keep all these important documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or fire-proof strong box. Here are some things you’ll want to store safely and be able to retrieve quickly:
• Insurance plan information – life, health, dental, home owners, renters, auto, boat, etc.
• Mortgage information
• Tax information – returns, purchase and charitable contribution receipts
• Investment paperwork – savings, stocks, bonds and retirement records
• Will and trust or health care directives
Keep ATM receipts for a month, and paycheck stubs, bills, credit card, bank and investment statements for a year. Hold on to tax returns, medical bills, mortgage and home records longer — up to three to seven years.
Set a monthly budget. It’s important to keep track of your finances and what you’re spending money on in order to determine where you can cut back. Keep an accurate account of your finances for several months, then start trimming expenses where possible. There are excellent software packages available to help you keep your income and expenses balanced.
Set a savings budget and stick to it. Whether it’s for your children’s college tuition, a home down payment or for retirement, it’s important to make your savings goal part of your monthly budget. Set aside a regular amount — starting as early as you can.
Keep an emergency fund. Financial emergencies can happen when you least expect them. Instead of adding to your debt through a credit card withdrawal or bank loan, keep an amount equal to six months expenses on hand. Get started by arranging a bi-weekly or monthly automatic transfer into your savings account.
Stay on top of your credit score. Good credit opens many doors — auto and home ownership, backup credit lines, even co-signing your child’s student loans can be influenced by your credit score. In addition, spotting fraudulent accounts — such as credit cards opened via identity theft — is much easier when you’re managing your credit score. Free credit report services with email alerts are available online.
Look to life insurance to help protect your family. If the unexpected happens, you want to know your family is safe, and that includes your finances. Talk to a life insurance professional for help in selecting the coverage and life insurance provider.