Monday, June 4, 2012

Take a Day to Organize Your Finances

By Renee Hanson, Certified Financial Planner

If you’re like most people, you periodically set aside time to clean out your home, garage or closets. It’s equally as important to take time to organize your finances. The following checklist can help you get started:

•    Cancel unused credit cards — If you’re paying an annual fee on a credit card or other account that you don’t use, you’re throwing money away. So, cash in any rewards points you have earned and then cancel the account. Of course, take into consideration whether canceling the card will negatively affect your credit rating.

•   Cancel unused memberships — If a new at-home exercise routine has replaced your trips to the health club or gym, or if you’re no longer playing golf at a course you belong to, consider canceling your membership. Even if you have to pay a fee, you may quickly recoup your financial losses.

•    Consolidate your debt — Make sure any balances you carry are on low-rate cards. If you carry debt on more than one card, consider consolidating it all to one of your low-rate cards. Even if you have to pay a fee, run the numbers. It’s likely you’ll still come out ahead over the longer term.

•    Negotiate better deals with your service providers — Whether it’s your cable, Internet or waste removal company, chances are you can negotiate a better rate. Simply take time to get quotes from competitors. If they are offering lower rates for the same services, go back to your service provider to see if they will price match to keep your business. If not, switch to someone new.

•    Update your financial records — Make a list of your current financial accounts, contacts and passwords. Keep this information in a safe and secure place.

•    Update your beneficiary designations — Your beneficiary designations override your will. So, if you’ve experienced a marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or death, make sure your beneficiary designations reflect your wishes.

•    Review your home and auto insurance coverage — Make sure your coverage reflects your present needs. Also, price shop the same coverage with different providers. Whether you switch to a new provider or use this information to strike a deal with your current provider, you could save a significant amount.

Consult your financial advisor for more ideas and strategies on ways you can save.

Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

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