As we move closer to the tax deadline (April 18th this year), spend a few extra minutes cleaning up your finances.

Since you’re already gathering all your financial paperwork, take time to do the following tasks.

1- Consolidate bank accounts.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covers deposit accounts at insured banks and financial institutions for up to $250,000. Click here to learn more about this coverage.

If you have less than that amount and many different bank accounts, consider consolidating to one bank. It’ll simplify your life.

2-Adjust your paycheck withholding if you’re receiving a tax refund.

With this adjustment, you’ll receive more money upfront instead of waiting every year for a refund.

Contact your HR Department to find out how to make this adjustment.

3- Discuss tax-efficient strategies with your financial advisor.

If you’re paying more taxes than you did in the past, it’s time to have that conversation. 

Also, consult with your CPA or Enrolled Agent (EA) for additional ideas.

4- Evaluate all recurring charges on your credit card and PayPal accounts.

Some products and services you purchase are set up on automatic payments. These recurring charges can be a waste of money if you’re not using those products or services.

When reviewing these subscription offers, be honest with yourself. Determine if you truly need these products and services.

You may decide you would be better off using that money to build your savings.

5- Update how much you need in your emergency reserve.

It should cover your expenses for at least 6 months if you’re a dual-income family or 9 months if you’re a single-income family.

Historically, it’s been recommended for an emergency reserve to cover at least 3- to 6-months of expenses. But realistically, how long would it take you to find another job if you were let go from your current employer?

It’s better to be conservative and save to cover your expenses if that situation or another unexpected situation arises.

6- Identify one expense you want to reduce.

When reviewing your spending, identify areas where you could cut spending.

Maybe you overspend on dining out, food delivery, pets, personal care items, shopping, or entertainment.

Instead of overspending in a specific area, shift that money to build your savings for future lifestyle goals.

7- Review your contribution to your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Maximize your contribution to your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan. While you may not see the benefit now, it will make a difference as you approach retirement.

And, if your employer offers a match to your contribution, make sure you take advantage of that “free” money.

It’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to cleaning up your finances. But since you’re already gathering your financial documents, commit to addressing the above-listed tasks.

(Update to original post from March 14, 2017)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”