Here are four ways in which you can get your financial information in tip-top shape – before you get in way over your head.
1. Prune the credit cards. Experts say that most people only need one or two cards. For those who pay off their balances each month, it makes most sense to stick to only one card – preferably one that pays cash rewards or frequent-flier miles. Limit your spending to one card and you’ll reap the rewards much quicker. For people who tend to carry over their balances, the two-card approach might work better. Use one card for purchases that can be paid in full every month. Use the second one for rolling over outstanding debt. Of course, you should try to get the lowest possible interest rate on that second card so that what you owe doesn’t grow more than you can handle.
2. Consolidate banking accounts. Many families have multiple bank accounts – checking, savings, CDs, money market accounts, etc. You can often earn higher interest rates or qualify for loan discounts by moving all those accounts to a credit union.
3. Cut back on the mutual funds. According to the Investment Company Institute, households that have mutual funds hold an average of seven of them. Holding so many from various sources can add up to a large expense because you’re likely to be paying fees for each investment management company. Start looking at your funds and decide which of them plays which role in your portfolio. Many times, investors can clone that same strategy by investing in one to three diversified funds. And, if you look into collecting all of your funds under one roof, you might find that it saves you a significant amount of money.
4. Merge or roll over your 401(k) accounts. If you have multiple 401(k) accounts leftover from various employers, take the opportunity to roll them over into one account or with one investment company where your money is, and it will usually give you more flexibility when it comes time for withdrawals.