Pattie Lovett-Reid: Tips for a financial spring clean
For those savvy enough to have filed their taxes, it is time to shift your focus to a financial spring clean and step up your digital security for success.
- Adjust your withholding tax to ensure enough money is being taken off each pay. I learned this the hard way. If you happen to fall into a lower tax bracket due to tax changes, your withholding tax may not accurately reflect that. If you have additional streams of income coming in, the assumption is it is your only income when it might not be — in this case you will owe. We are already into the 2018 taxation year but better late than never. Ensure the amount of tax deductions reflect your current situation.
- After filing your taxes, don’t forget to shred unwanted or unnecessary documentation. Clean up your files and set yourself up for success for 2018. The general rule is to keep your tax filing documents for a minimum of seven years, although most keep them indefinitely as it is better to be safe than sorry. It is also a good time to remove documents from your computer, external drives and mobile devices but remember simply hitting delete doesn’t cut it and won’t prevent their retrieval. Explore ways to securely delete data using free software programs and encrypt information on devices using built-in tools or verified third-party apps.
- Review your budget. The first quarter is in the rear view mirror. Are you on track? Have you increased spending? Has your family situation changed at all, and are you meeting your savings goals that you put in place as part of your New Year’s resolutions? Knowing where you stand financially and taking corrective action puts you in control of your finances and that is empowering.
- Review your investment strategy and asset allocation. The markets continue to be volatile and things can get out of whack pretty easily. Has your risk tolerance changed at all, or have you taken on more risk in your portfolio than you intended? Are you staying true to your asset allocation — your distribution across cash, fixed income and stocks? Asset allocation is what makes diversification work. You don’t want everything in your portfolio moving in the same direction at the same time.
- Review your credit report. Just do it. Mistakes happen all the time, your data may have been breach or your identity compromised and you don’t know it. Better to be informed.
Your personal life changes all the time: Changes in employment, your family situation, living arrangements, retirement plans and the list goes on. Your personal life isn’t static nor is your financial life. In fact, both are pretty dynamic and changing all the time — so don’t forget to check in.