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Getting your financial house in order is a must

Spotlight on Finance

— Once you’ve sifted through the reams of paper, organize what remains. If you really want to clear off the shelves, you can scan your documents and store them electronically. Just make sure you have reliable back up or are using a secure and trusted online document storage provider.

Develop a master plan

Hopefully you filed your taxes for the year. If so, everything you need to know about how much money you make and what your basic expenses are can be found in your return.

Knowing how much you made and spent the previous year will help you reevaluate your budget, reduce financial clutter and analyze what expenses can be eliminated. To do this, you should review all plans and policies you have in place. You might be paying more than you need to for certain items or services. For example, can you save money on your phone, cable or Internet expenses by switching plans or carriers?

What about your insurance policies? They shouldn't be gathering dust. Homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, health care insurance and auto insurance are some of the most-commonly held policies. Make sure you aren’t overpaying or underpaying on them. For example, take an inventory of your possessions by adding up how much it would cost to replace them. Then compare this figure with the amount of coverage in your homeowner’s policy to determine whether you are over- or under-insured. If you’ve acquired expensive, high-worth items, such as jewelry, a boat or artwork, make sure to adjust your policy accordingly. Do you have older children who are still on your health insurance policy? Do they need to be?

What about cars? Do you still need to carry collision? Make sure your coverage meets your needs and your beneficiary designations are current. Research and request quotes from different companies. Find the right fit. And consider bundling policies. It may help you realize some savings.

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