Wednesday, April 25

The Rites of Spring

This week I have been quite motivated to move things forward that have been previously standing still. I have listed my old car for sale, moved my bathroom renovation forward by two significant steps, set up some necessary business banking and set up three important personal/medical appointments. I realized that this is a sort of "spring cleaning" for me. The change of seasons seems to bring a renewed interest in getting things into top shape.

I think that it is important to take advantage when this kind of energy strikes. Personal finances can benefit from a "spring cleaning" too. Here are some ideas based on ways that my finances occasionally get "messy". Not all of them will apply in every situation, but it's a good starting point:

  • Switch banks, open or close accounts, or consolidate banking and investing into fewer locations to save service charges or reduce the administration that you have to do.
  • On a similar note, do an internet search to see if you have a dormant account that you've forgotten about. Make a resolution not to have so many accounts that you could ever lose one!
  • Set up automatic payments on those pesky bills that you always forget about. My personal tormentor is my cell phone bill because it doesn't arrive in paper mail, and my email inbox is always so full.
  • Review how many credit cards you have and what each one's balance, interest rate, annual fee and incentive programs are. Don't forget about department store cards, gas cards or anything else that is like a credit card. Rearrange if things don't make sense.
  • Increase your mortgage payment. If you think you can't handle it just do $20 extra. Then try raising it again in a few months.
  • Check when your mortgage is maturing and start talking to a broker now if it is soon.
  • Increase or set up an automatic RRSP withdrawal. If your employer offers this as a payroll service do it from source so that your taxes are adjusted. If your employer offers a matching contribution make sure you are putting as much in as you possibly can afford. to maximize the match.
  • Review all your investments to make sure that you know where your money is and what asset classes it is invested in. Review the performance of all stocks or mutual funds to determine if you are holding underperformers.
  • Rebalance your portfolio if it hasn't been done in a while.
  • Review your life insurance and will, especially if you have married, had children, divorced or any other similarly significant event this year.

Wow! That's a big list. If your energy level isn't up to tackling so much stuff just pick one or two. I'm a big believer that even small improvements add up over time.

Happy Spring Cleaning!