With summer over and the end of the year quickly approaching, fall is a great time for a cleanup. But that cleanup doesn't just have to involve your yard; it's also a great time to get your financial affairs in order before the busy holiday season starts and tax season is upon you.
Here are 5 steps you can take to get your finances in order this fall:
1) Review your budget. One of the keys to managing money successfully is creating and sticking to a budget. If you have a budget, revisit your expenses and income to see what has changed. If your expenses are higher than you can afford, think about ways to cut them.
2) Evaluate your savings. How much have you saved for the year? Think about ways you can save more — even if it's just a few extra dollars. One way to make saving easier is to have money automatically deducted from your bank account into a savings account each month.
3) Set a holiday budget. The holiday season is an expensive time for many people. Try to determine how much money you'll need for holiday purchases and set a budget for it. By planning ahead and budgeting, you will avoid one of the most common mistakes people make — running up credit card debt
4) Review your interest rates. If you have credit card balances, look at the interest rate you are paying. If it's too high, shop around and consider transferring your balance to a card with a lower interest rate. Take a closer look at your mortgage, too. If your mortgage rate is higher than current rates and you plan to remain in your home, consider refinancing.
5) Check your credit report. One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to periodically check your credit report. Federal law requires that you can obtain one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion,® Equifax,® and Experian.®
Make the time to get your finances in order this fall. It will help you sow the seeds for a more affordable holiday season and a great financial start to the new year.