Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steps to Take to Spring Clean Your Finances

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steps to Take to Spring Clean Your Finances

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - As the days get longer and sunnier, many of us are inspired to do some spring cleaning. I like to take that tradition and apply it to my financial life.

This spring, what I'm going to do for my financial life is inspired by the struggles I'm having in trying to help my mother, who was critically injured in a fire at her home. As I continue to pull together a financial file for her, I've been thinking about some things people should do. In that respect, here are five tips to spring clean your finances:

* Put your important papers in a portable fireproof and waterproof safe. Almost all of my mother's important papers were destroyed in the fire. She kept most of her paperwork in her bedroom, which is where the fire started. The history of who she was financially largely went up in smoke.

Increasingly, most of the financial information you need can be accessed online as organizations strive to have customers go paperless. But there are some documents you need to keep handy and safe - your Social Security card, passport, certificates of birth, and marriage or divorce documents. In filling out paperwork, certain companies may require originals of many of these documents.

You can spend several hundred dollars for a safe, but I found a few I like ranging in price from about $40 to $60. I want something that's portable and can be carried in a hurry.

* Set up a meeting with the folks who are responsible for taking care of your affairs. Even if you've talked in the past, maybe it's time for a fresher conversation. Don't just tell them but show them. Point out where you keep your files and your safe, which you're going to get, right? Also provide a list of the names of important contacts or companies you do business with, such as your insurance agent.

* Create a family history folder. You think you know important information about your family, but do you really? You may know their birthdays, but do you know the year they were born? …

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