Summer has come to an end. Now that the hottest days, family vacations and back-to-school rush are behind us, it’s a great time to give some attention to your personal finances. Prepare for the coming months – and the holidays on the horizon – with these fall tips:
- Pay quarterly estimated taxes. If you’re self-employed or you have extra income you haven’t reported on your W-2, now’s the time to make sure you’re paying both state and federal quarterly estimated income taxes so you don’t get stuck with a big bill from Uncle Sam in April. September 17th was the deadline to pay your third quarter estimates, but don’t let that stop you from sending something in anyway.
- Prepare for the cooler months. Although you may still have summer on your mind, staying warm gets expensive when winter hits. Many utility companies offer “budget billing” plans that allow you to spread your heating costs over the year while avoiding a surprisingly large bill for a particularly cold month. Also, winterizing your home this fall conserves energy and saves money.
- Start saving for the holidays. It may sound excessive to start thinking about the holidays in October, but Christmas is a less than 90 days away. Now is a great time to create a holiday spending plan. For instance, if you plan to spend $300 on gifts, you should start saving $3-4 per day to get there. Stashing away cash in advance allows you to buy gifts for everyone on your list without taking on debt. Resolve to start a “Christmas Club” savings account in the New Year to jump-start your savings habit.
- Teach children to save. When kids return to school, they often have a renewed sense of focus and determination. Schools across the country are incorporating financial literacy into the classroom. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about money and the importance of saving. Your efforts will be rewarded as your child develops an understanding of financial principles and positive financial habits. HarborOneU in Mansfield has a great free class called “Piggy Bankers” that can help.
- De-clutter and donate. As summer winds down and you start spending more time inside, take a hard look at all the stuff you’ve been stockpiling. Sorting through clothes you no longer wear along with electronics and unused household items can free-up space and even make you a little cash. Sell items at a local consignment shop or donate them (by making a tax-deductible contribution).
- Conquering the Clutter in your Financial Closet. You need only to keep credit card receipts, ATM transactions, and deposit and debit card receipts until you verify the transaction on your monthly statements and then you can shred them. Always remember that any financial transaction, receipt or account statement should be shredded. NEVER throw them in the trash.
PERMANENT items you may want to keep:
- Educational records
- Employment records
- Health records
- Retirement and Pension Plan information
- Contents of your safe deposit box
CURRENT items, which need to be reviewed every 3-6 years, before deciding whether to continue keeping or shredding them include:
- Cancelled checks
- Bank statements
- Insurance policies
- Home purchase, repair and improvement records
- Income tax records