Getting your financial house in order

If you want to retire comfortably, it’s important to know where you stand with your finances.

A financial spring-cleaning could be useful, whether you’re starting your career or nearing retirement. A best-selling guide to decluttering suggests if you don’t need it, get rid of it. Keep what’s important in easy reach. You may find decisions flow more easily when your financial information is organized.

Here are some steps to help you take control of your situation.  

  • Create a spending plan. See if you can figure out where your money is going. Then look at whether you might be able to reduce expenses and save more toward your retirement and other goals.
  • Start a filing system for your financial records, such as tax returns and statements for your retirement accounts, investments and bank accounts. Stay organized by keeping the current year’s records handy and storing away the rest.
  • Make lists of where to find your accounts, insurance policies, birth certificate, passport, and financial and legal advisers.
  • Log into your employer retirement plan account regularly and review your contribution rate and investments at least once a year.
  • Check the beneficiaries for your retirement account and insurance policies. If there’s been a change, such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child or a death, you may need to update your beneficiary information to reflect your current wishes.
  • Switch to edelivery. Log into your employer retirement plan account and change your mail delivery preference from paper to electronic delivery. You’ll cut down on clutter. And you’ll access your statements and other account information quickly any time.
  • Request a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. By law you are entitled to one free report each year. If you notice errors, request corrections right away.
  • Execute a will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney documents. Develop or update your estate plan to ensure that the people who depend on you are protected and your final wishes are honored.