With most of Utah in social isolation, you’ve probably had at least a little extra time on your hands in recent weeks. Maybe you’ve joined the tiktok challenge craze, or started learning a new language (self-paced online language learning is up). Or, maybe you’ve learned to bake bread (or just started cooking in general) for the first time. If you’re looking for yet another way to pass the quarantine time (or at-home trick golf shots just aren’t your thing), consider organizing your finances. Now is the perfect time to take stock of your money and make a plan for your spending and saving.
A good starting point for organizing your finances is to gather and review all your important financial documents. This includes wills, powers of attorney, investment account beneficiary forms, titles, warranties, and contact information for financial advisors, bank account reps, and lenders. Review all this information to ensure that beneficiaries are stated correctly, powers of attorney and other legal documents express your current wishes, passwords and contacts are correct, and everything is up to date. If something is missing or needs updating, take advantage of the time to make adjustments.
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your credit, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. As result of the pandemic, each bureau is offering free weekly online credit reports through April 2021. You can check your credit reports at Annual Credit Report.com, a site authorized by the Federal Trade Commission. Once you have a copy of each report, compare and contrast entries. Reports won’t be identical, but you can get a good idea of your financial position by reviewing each. If something looks amiss, contact the credit bureau and your lender to ask questions.
Many people are keenly aware of the balances in their savings, checking, and money market accounts. And you should review those frequently. But health care savings accounts sometimes get lost in the financial shuffle. If your employer sponsors a health care savings account, or you have money set away for health care emergencies or spending, take time to review balances and spending over the past year. Doing so can help you stay on top of your assets and make adjustments to allocated funds, where necessary. It’s also good to review this information as a family to ensure that your significant other understands how to use the funds and how much is available, should they become needed.
There is a lot of bad news in the world right now, but one silver lining is that interest rates are nearing historic lows. Now is the perfect time to review interest rates on your mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and more, to see what kind of interest rates you’re paying. Do some research online, visit UtahFirst.com, or call one of our loan specialists to see where current interest rates stand, and whether you might be able to save money with a refinance. Many lenders, including Utah First, are helping people get through the current financial crisis with smart financial solutions. At the very least, checking your current interest rates is a good reminder about how much you owe, how much you’re paying toward principal, and how much longer you have to pay your loans.
Tax season has been officially pushed until July by both the federal and Utah state governments. But that doesn’t mean you have to delay filing your taxes. Preparing your taxes, whether by yourself, with the help of a software program, or with an advisor is a great way to take stock of your current financial situation. Especially if you’re anticipating a refund, filing taxes sooner rather than later makes all the sense in the world. Plus, it gives you a chance to get organized. Review your income, inventory receipts, take stock of donations, and determine your current deductions to help you make sense of your current financial situation.
Organizing your finances might not be the most fun way to pass the quarantine time, but it can help you budget your money, and make needed changes to your finances. And with a little extra time on your hands at home, it’s a practical way to be prepared for possible changes to the economy or income in the months ahead.
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