The new year is full of promise and optimism by many of us. I always chuckle when I go to the gym in early January, and I notice that about three times the amount of people are working out than in December. Then by February, the numbers drop again. We tend to focus more on losing weight early in the year, but there are other aspects of your life you should think about early in the year as well. To get ready for tax time and get your finances off to a good start, consider these 5 moves to make to better your finances for 2010.
Pull Your Free Credit Report
One of the most misleading marketing strategies that I can remember is the one put on by FreeCreditReport.com. This website popped up around the same time that the federal government passed a law to require Transunion, Equifax, and Experian to give a free credit report to everyone with a credit history once a year. FreeCreditReport.com IS NOT THE WEBSITE WHERE YOU PULL YOUR FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT. AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY website approved by the federal government to give you a truly free credit report from all three credit bureaus. Any other imposter credit report website that claims to deliver free credit reports will take your credit card information and enroll you in a free trial that will start charging you a monthly fee after the trial period expires if you don’t cancel it within the trial period. Once you get your credit reports, check them for errors and inaccuracies. You can dispute any errors online through each credit bureau.
Ask For an Interest Rate Reduction On Your Credit Cards
No credit card company is going to freely reduce your interest rate. You need to play hardball with them. Threaten to close your card if they don’t reduce the interest rate. If you receive a credit card offer in the mail with a lower rate, use that specific offer to leverage a reduction in your current card. If you get specific with the customer service rep by telling them the name of the other credit card issuer and the details, they’ll start listening to you.
Visit A Tax Advisor
If your taxes aren’t complicated, you don’t need to hire a CPA to do your taxes, but it’s always a good idea to speak with a tax professional about your 2009 taxes to make sure you are aware of any and all deductions and credits you may be eligible for. Also, if you went through any major life events like marriage, a new baby, or divorce, you’ll also want advice on how that changes your taxes. To find a tax professional you can trust, check out Dave Ramsey’s endorsed local providers in your area.
Organize Your Finances
Entire books could be written on how to organize your finances. I will write an article in the near future that goes into more detail about how to organize your finances, but it starts by simplifying them. Are you the person with three checking accounts, 4 savings account, 3 brokerage accounts, and 2 CD’s? Yeah, I thought so. The first step is consolidating your money. Two checking accounts, one online savings, account, and one brokerage account is all you need. I say two checking accounts because I like having an extra checking account with a debit card where you can keep emergency fund money or money for entertainment or just to blow.
Evaluate Your Insurance Policies
Shop around to see if you can get a better rate from a different insurance company for auto, homeowners, life, and health insurance. Also, check out your coverages to see if they need to be updated or something needs to be added. A good example of this might be adding an expensive piece of jewelry you received for Christmas to a separate rider on your homeowner’s policy so it is covered in case of theft.
Take these steps in the beginning of the year, and you won’t be wondering what happened at the end of the year.