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The air is getting crisper, the kids are back to school and fall is just around the corner. With every new season comes an opportunity to set aside some time to take care of a few financial to-dos. While it may not be top of your to-do list during fall, it is essential to help improve your finances and create a sense of financial wellness. Below are our top 11 ways to improve your finances this fall.
- Do an expense audit: While many people budget and know what they're spending on their monthly bills, we live in the time of subscription services. That means you may be paying money every month towards something you don't use often. Whether it's cancelling cable or combining services to save, there are many ways you can trim regular expenses by performing a brief audit. Make sure to go back through the past several months to ensure you don't miss any quarterly or yearly expenses.
- Clean out wallets: Wallets often get weighed down with items you don't need, from old receipts to loyalty cards that you don't use regularly. Take a few minutes to clean out your wallet and while you're at it ...
- Make an inventory of your wallet: If you ever lose your wallet or it gets stolen, you will then have easy access to what needs to be replaced. Making a list of cards and phone numbers you need to call to replace your cards will make replacing those items a little easier.
- Check rates for loans and credit cards: A few times a year, it's a great idea to look at interest rates. This may mean refinancing a loan or asking your credit card company for a reduction in your rate. Interest savings can really add up over time, so a seasonal check in on interest rates is a must.
- Check rates for insurance: Several times a year it's a great idea to check the rates on your insurance. You may be able to save by calling around, price shopping online or bundling insurance policies together.
- Pull your credit report: Every year consumers get a free annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. Spacing them out to three times a year is a smart and free way to monitor for unusual activity on your credit report. Pull one report now, then add a calendar reminder to do this again two more times in 2019.
- Do a run through on your taxes: Running through your taxes in the fall is essential to help ensure you are on the right track. If you know you'll owe money, it's a good time to have additional taken out of your paycheck or pay additional estimated taxes. If you're expecting a refund, why not get some of those funds now? You can adjust your withholding to get more of that money in your paycheck.
- Clean out your closet: Cleaning out your closet should be a seasonal thing, but this time around, don't just get rid of things you don't love. Consider donating your items to charity, or selling items you no longer need or use on sites like eBay and Poshmark. Consider a capsule wardrobe for fall that will help you focus on mixing and matching clothes you already have instead of shopping. And if you donate to charity, don't forget to get a receipt for tax deductions.
- Prep your home for fall: Trim back trees and shrubs, stock up on winter supplies and get a jump on winterizing your home by taking care of any exterior maintenance. If you rent, make sure to check for anything that needs to be fixed in the fall before it could cause an issue in the winter, like removing AC units from windows.
- Budget for holiday spending: It's time to start budgeting for the holidays. Setting aside a little money each week, or each paycheck will help you be prepared for all the spending that comes with the holiday season.
- Bump up savings: It's never a bad idea to save more, so consider looking at your savings plan and bumping up your savings. Even a few extra dollars a month or a small percentage of income can make a big impact.
- Consider your open enrollment: The fall is often the time of year companies send out enrollment information for the coming year's benefits. Take some time to go through your documents to ensure you understand any changes or anywhere you can be saving in tax-advantaged accounts like flexible spending accounts for healthcare and dependent care.
While there are many more financial tasks you can tackle in the fall, this list of 12 is a great way to start off the final months of the year and set you on a path to a great year financially.