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Banking Experts Offer Tips for a Financially Secure 2016
9 Jan
As the new year kicks off, many of us are thinking about how to make it a good one. Whether that means eating healthier, spending more time with family, or getting our finances in shape, one thing that’s always hard is knowing where to start.

Luckily, if your resolution is to get control of your wallet and have the best financial year yet, U.S. Bank finance coach Margaret Paddock has some tips to help you get started. A new year is the perfect opportunity to set new financial goals and make a plan. Here’s how to get started.

• Order a copy of your credit report. You can get this for free, and you should do it now, if you don’t know your credit score. It’s important to know where you stand with the credit bureaus, and make sure the information they have is accurate.

• Take a look at your investment portfolios. The stock markets ups and downs may mean that you have too much or too little invested in different funds. It’s a good time to reevaluate.

• Automate your financial life. If you haven’t already, move your accounts online and set up automatic payments for bills. Schedule payments so you won’t have to worry about getting behind on utilities or credit card bills.

• Evaluate your debt. If you owe money, this is the time to take a hard look at to whom, how much, and what the interest rate is. Think about applying for a balance transfer credit card to simplify your life and help you get out of debt faster.

• Look at your estate. If you haven’t written a will or made other necessary arrangements for the inevitable end of your life. Do it now. It’s not fun, but it’s vital. You want to make sure your wishes are carried out after your death, so get your documents in order.

• Figure out your charitable giving for the year. Look at what you gave last year, and think about what you’ll give this year. Think about it from a tax perspective. When you can, make donations using appreciated stock you’ve had for over a year, so you don’t incur capital gains.

• Maximize your 401(k) contributions, if you haven’t already. You can catch up by making extra contributions before the end of the year to get to your maximum annual contribution amount.

• Check out your Social Security benefits. When you retire, how much will you get? This is a great time to look over your benefits and strategize about when to claim them.

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