Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A few adjustments go a long way in reducing financial stress

A winning lottery ticket would make anyone feel better about their financial situation. However, while you’re waiting for those numbers to hit consider taking a few steps to ease the stress over financial matters.
Getting rid of that box of documents that gets bigger with every mail delivery for example, is a good first step.
“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,” said a spokesperson for Foresters Life Insurance. Among the important documents that should be saved and easy to reach in case of an emergency are: Insurance plans including life, health, dental, homeowners, renters, auto and boat; Mortgage information; Income tax information including returns, purchases and charitable receipts or tuition bills; Investment paperwork such as stocks and bonds, 401Ks and other retirement records and will, trust or healthcare directives.
Rule of thumb: When it comes to storing paperwork Forester’s financial experts (www.foresters.com) recommend that you keep ATM receipts for a month, paycheck stubs, bills, and 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 even.
Pay attention to the nickels and dimes – The only way to know where you’re going wrong or right and to determine where things can be adjusted is to keep track an accurate record of your finances. At least for a couple of months: Get a calendar and write down all of the bills to be paid. This will help you see where something can be trimmed or deleted all together. 

It’s never too late to save – Open a second account and drop some money into it. Whether it’s for a new dress or a new home – it’s important to have savings goals and that they are included in your monthly budget. 

Use insurance to protect your family – One sure way to reduce financial stress is being sure your family is protected in case something should happen. Member-based life insurance organizations like Foresters can offer family policies that benefit the family during emergencies but also as a source of loans during times of need.

Create an emergency fund – Talk to your bank and employer about arranging a bi-weekly or monthly automatic transfer into a savings account to be used for emergencies. Problems can happen at any time and usually when you least expect it. It’s amazing what a little fund can do to ease the burden of paying for a new dryer or a car battery, for example.

Keep track of your credit score – It might not seem important but a solid credit score can go a long way. Especially when it comes to things like auto and home ownership, backup credit lines, even co-signing a student loan is influenced by one’s credit score. It also helps your financial partners to see when something is awry – such as credit cards opened via identity theft. Check online for free credit report services with email alerts when something out of the ordinary occurs.

Check out a few more ways to better your financial situation:
  •         Cut out coupons
  •        Take your lunch to work instead of eating out (that’s at least $25 a week)
  •         Consider carpooling
  •         Keep bottles and cans organized for weekly/monthly bottle returns
  •         Have a garage sale
  •         Take advantage of consignment stores that can offer cash for everything from used musical instruments to prom dresses and football equipment
  •         Buy items you use regularly in bulk
  •         Grow your own herbs and vegetables
  •         Do away with dry clean only items
  •         Re-evaluate your cellular phone or cable network packages
  •         Inquire about local scholarships

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