Client Login
Contact Us
Call Us

5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Personal Finances

Just like caring for and cleaning your house, regular maintenance on your personal finances will save you loads of time and effort and possible potential issues in the long run. Now that the height of tax season is over, it is a great time to do a little Spring cleaning in a few important areas of your financial life.

Here are 5 tips from financial planning expert Paul Parnell, that everyone should consider this season.

Man Shredding Documents

Tip #1 – Shred Your Old Documents

“It’s important to take the time to shred any tax documents older than seven years, as well as take the time to purge unneeded digital documents,” says financial advisor Paul Parnell, managing partner at Ballast Advisors.

The IRS recommends keeping copies of tax returns and supporting documents for at least three years, and employment tax records documents for the last four years.

“If you are unsure about shredding a document, you can always scan and store a digital copy that can be stored securely,” adds Parnell.

Not only is this good financial practice, but it will keep your office tidy as well.

Tip #2 – Review Your Social Security Withholdings

“Post tax season is a good reminder to verify your wages reported to Social Security on the federal website for Social Security to ensure there aren’t any errors,” recommends Parnell. “This is the key to calculating your future social security benefits.”

If you’ve never logged in, go to the following website: Here you can register your account, and receive personalized estimates of future benefits based on your real earnings, see your latest statement and review your earnings history.

“I’ve seen it wrong several times throughout my career,” says Parnell. “For example, it’s possible if a client had an amended tax return, the withholding has not been updated.”

Tip #3 – Check Your Credit Report

Hopefully this is a practice you are doing with some regularity. The risks of consumer identity theft require you to be proactive about your credit profile and review your report for any red flags or inaccuracies.

“Go to and you can see a free report from all three credit bureaus,” says Parnell.

If you do see any red flags, it’s important to follow up. This site on the  Fight Identity Theft Project has some good resources.

See Related Post: How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft. 

Tip #4 – Compare Insurance Rates

When was the last time you evaluated your insurance rates?

“If you don’t have an independence insurance agent who does this for you, it’s important to do some comparison for your home and auto insurance premiums every year,” says Parnell. “I see it all the time. People who have been loyal to one provider for a long time and have had their rates gradually increased year over year. Ultimately they end up way overpaying.”

In addition to checking rates on things like home and auto, you should also take inventory of any other protection planning you may need.

“It’s important every 24 months or so to review aspects of your financial plan that involve protection planning, such as premature death, long term care and disability,” says Parnell. “It’s important that the plan you put together is kept up to date and accurate.”

Tip #5 – Dust off that Retirement Plan

Along the same line, take some time this spring to reconsider your retirement plan.

Have your goals changed?

Has your family experienced significant life events, such as birth, death, marriage or divorce, or a job change that could impact your plan?

“It might be time to consider consolidation of retirement accounts,” Parnell suggests. “If you have any old 401Ks and or IRAs in multiple places, consolidation can make your portfolio more manageable and likely reduce fees.”

Paul also suggests evaluating your retirement goals vs. your risk tolerance as needed.

“Re-balancing the portfolio from time to time is really a necessity,” he adds.

These helpful tips will help you ensure that your records are maintained, accurate, safe, and that your comprehensive financial plan is up to date.

Not only are these will these tips help you save money, but the peace of mind having confidence in your financial picture is priceless.

If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda 

223 Taylor St., Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

Financial Planning: Helping You See the Big Picture


*There is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results.

Common financial goals

  • Saving and investing for retirement
  • Saving and investing for college
  • Establishing an emergency fund
  • Providing for your family in the event of your death
  • Minimizing income or estate taxes




Do you picture yourself owning a new home, starting a business, or retiring comfortably? These are a few of the financial goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag attached.

That’s where financial planning comes in. Financial planning is a process that can help you target your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture, then outlining strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and available resources.

Why is financial planning important?

A comprehensive financial plan serves as a framework for organizing the pieces of your financial picture. With a financial plan in place, you’ll be better able to focus on your goals and understand what it will take to reach them.

One of the main benefits of having a financial plan is that it can help you balance competing financial priorities. A financial plan will clearly show you how your financial goals are related–for example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. Then you can use the information you’ve gleaned to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. Best of all, you’ll know that your financial life is headed in the right direction.

The financial planning process

Creating and implementing a comprehensive financial plan generally involves working with financial professionals to:

  • Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, your investment portfolio, your tax exposure, and your estate plan
  • Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals
  • Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build on your financial strengths
  • Choose specific products and services that are tailored to help meet your financial objectives*
  • Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change

Some members of the team

The financial planning process can involve a number of professionals.

Financial planners typically play a central role in the process, focusing on your overall financial plan, and often coordinating the activities of other professionals who have expertise in specific areas.

Accountants or tax attorneys provide advice on federal and state tax issues.

Estate planning attorneys help you plan your estate and give advice on transferring and managing your assets before and after your death.

Insurance professionals evaluate insurance needs and recommend appropriate products and strategies.

Investment advisors provide advice about investment options and asset allocation, and can help you plan a strategy to manage your investment portfolio.

The most important member of the team, however, is you. Your needs and objectives drive the team, and once you’ve carefully considered any recommendations, all decisions lie in your hands.

Why can’t I do it myself?

You can, if you have enough time and knowledge, but developing a comprehensive financial plan may require expertise in several areas. A financial professional can give you objective information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you time and ensuring that all angles of your financial picture are covered.

Staying on track

The financial planning process doesn’t end once your initial plan has been created. Your plan should generally be reviewed at least once a year to make sure that it’s up-to-date. It’s also possible that you’ll need to modify your plan due to changes in your personal circumstances or the economy. Here are some of the events that might trigger a review of your financial plan:

  • Your goals or time horizons change
  • You experience a life-changing event such as marriage, the birth of a child, health problems, or a job loss
  • You have a specific or immediate financial planning need (e.g., drafting a will, managing a distribution from a retirement account, paying long-term care expenses)
  • Your income or expenses substantially increase or decrease
  • Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected
  • You’re affected by changes to the economy or tax laws

Common questions about financial planning

What if I’m too busy?

Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of a financial crisis before beginning the planning process. The sooner you start, the more options you may have.

Is the financial planning process complicated?

Each financial plan is tailored to the needs of the individual, so how complicated the process will be depends on your individual circumstances. But no matter what type of help you need, a financial professional will work hard to make the process as easy as possible, and will gladly answer all of your questions.

What if my spouse and I disagree?

A financial professional is trained to listen to your concerns, identify any underlying issues, and help you find common ground.

Can I still control my own finances?

Financial planning professionals make recommendations, not decisions. You retain control over your finances. Recommendations will be based on your needs, values, goals, and time frames. You decide which recommendations to follow, then work with a financial professional to implement them.



Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019
 IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice