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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