NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Spring Clean Your Financial Goals

Spring Clean Your Financial Goals


                Spring is here, and there's no better time for opening windows and welcoming in some fresh air.  In addition to spring cleaning closets and corners, what about spring cleaning finances?  Often our finances can use some spring cleaning every bit as much as our homes do.  Here are some ideas to head into the warm weather with a clean slate.

                Start with a clean base. Before you can set any money goals, you need to know and be honest about where you currently stand. It can be scary to evaluate how much debt you have or take a hard look at how much you aren't saving, but this is the first step to setting an attainable financial goal.

                Set a clear standard.  The acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited, has been used for more than 20 years to help people set and meet goals. Use these criteria to help you set not only a specific goal but one that is reasonable for you to achieve.   Polish your goals.  Dream too small and you may find you're not making much headway. Dream too big and you may get frustrated and give up. Establish goals that feel like a stretch but can be achieved with dedication and hard work. Start small with the goal of paying off one credit card and then tackle something a little bigger like climbing out of debt.

                Refinish your credit report. By law, you're entitled to order one free credit report yearly from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can get yours at no cost from annualcreditreport.com. Make sure your credit reports are free of mistakes.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting agency and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting agency) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider.

                Organize and/or shred old financial documents.  Sort through your statements, pay stubs, bills and other financial records, and keep only the documents that are absolutely necessary. Since the IRS has up to six years to audit you, keep your tax returns, canceled checks and receipts, and any records supporting your tax deduction for at least six years.

                Make bill paying automatic.  Spring cleaning isn't only about de-cluttering - it's also about making things more efficient. Set up automatic bill pay, and link it to your primary checking account. Automatic bill pay will eliminate the chances of missing a payment and paying those pesky late fees.

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