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Family Finances

Spring Means Time for Your Financial House Cleaning

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05/01/2011 - It's spring at last. The birds are singing and the smell of barbeque fills the air. As you perform such springtime rituals as garage and basement cleaning, why not take some time to spruce up your finances? Review these important items now so you can relax and enjoy the budding season knowing that your financial house is in order.

1. Your budget. There's a good chance that your cash flow needs will vary during the summer months. Not only does summer travel come into play, but you may also need additional funds for child care while the kids are away from school. This review may also reveal opportunities to trim expenses and increase savings goals.

2. Your credit standing. Did you know that you are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus? Spring is a good time to request yours from Equifax (equifax.com), Experian (experian.com) and TransUnion (transunion.com). You can also get copies at no cost from annualcreditreport.com. By reviewing the reports carefully you can find anything from old accounts that should be closed to outright identity theft.

3. Your financial records. Spring is an excellent time to sort through old statements, pay stubs, bills and other records that you no longer need. Be sure to keep up to six years of records to support your tax deductions, since that's how long the IRS has to audit you.

4. Your protection needs. While de-cluttering and filing paperwork, take time to review life, homeowner, auto and disability policies to make sure you are still satisfied with your level of coverage. If you've experienced any life changing events like divorce or the birth of a child, your needs have changed and it's time for an insurance and beneficiary review.

5. Your estate plan. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. While tax reduction and gifting strategies come into play for those with considerable assets, everyone needs the most basic estate plan. If you haven't already done so, make sure you have an up-to-date will, health care directive and basic powers-of-attorney.

6. Your benefits. Even though fall is traditionally open enrollment time, spring is a good time to make sure the benefits you've elected are being maximized. If you are covered by a health savings plan, make sure you are using the investment component to your advantage.

7. Your investment and savings plans. There's no better time for an annual review to help make sure you are on track to reach your financial goals. The process can help keep tabs on your net worth, cash flow and portfolio value. It's also a good way to determine if your portfolio has strayed from your intended asset allocation and rebalance if necessary.

Most importantly, don't let your financial house cleaning overwhelm you. Tackle items one at a time and consult your financial advisor for help along the way.


[Insert advisor's biography]. Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of [Insert the state(s) the advisor is licensed in].

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

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