When was the last time you sorted through your bills and bank statements? Are they just sitting on your desk at home or at the office gathering dust? If so, you may be digging yourself a deeper financial hole. Knowing where your money is going and when is critical to managing your finances, and the first place to start is by opening your mail. Make a conscious effort to open any piece of mail that deals with your bank accounts, investments, credit cards, even utility bills. This includes email if you receive paperless billing. Read through your statements and file them in a consistent, organized manner. The last thing you want on your mind is, “Did I pay the phone bill for April? Or was it March?”
In addition to sorting through statements and bills, figure out which documents can be thrown away. Utility bills, bank and credit card statements, and pay stubs can be thrown away after a year – two at the max. When getting rid of these documents, don’t just add them to your household garbage. Shred them. These papers contain personal information that could make you a target for identity theft, leaving your financial well-being in the hands of someone else. Unread magazines and other periodical subscriptions can also be tossed, but be sure to stop payment on them if you have automatic billing.
Once you’ve “lightened the load,” give your credit a checkup. Having a good credit score will make life easier for you down the road should you need to take out a loan, buy a home or open up a new line of credit. You can access your credit report for free and review it regularly should there be any inaccuracies. While you’re checking your credit, figure out how you plan on paying off any debts like student loans and other unpaid bills and prioritize which should be paid off first. You can either take care of the lowest balance first or tackle the bill with the highest interest rate. No matter what strategy you choose, try to pay more than the minimum monthly payments.
You know all of those pesky receipts you’re always finding in your pocket? You may want to hold onto those – at least some of them. Receipts from charitable donations and job-related expenses are tax deductible if you remember to itemize. Some family physicians travel for their job and most will attend several conferences or conventions throughout the year. Hold on to those receipts as travel expenses can be deducted
It’s easy for many people, including family physicians to set up a retirement plan and forget about it. But no matter where you are in your career, it’s important to make an effort to review your plan and find out if your investments need “cleaning up” so you can meet your retirement goals. Discuss any changes you’d like to make with a financial advisor to ensure that your money is going to the right places at the right times.
By connecting with your personal finances, you are taking control of your money, your life and your practice.