Fall Financial Cleaning – Get Your Credit, Bills and Paperwork in Order!

financial-cleaningPeople who join a credit union aren’t just looking for a place to cash their checks and save their money. People who join a credit union are looking to improve their credit, get the best deals possible on home loans, lines of credit and money market savings accounts. Joining a credit union means becoming a member of a local financial organization, not becoming another number at a huge national bank.

So if you are a credit union member and want to find new ways to clean up your credit, reduce your debt and get all of your financial paperwork in order, here are some tips to help get you started. For even more financial advice and tips, speak with your credit union in New Bedford. They have a lot of different savings and investment programs that can help you get your financial life on track.

Tip #1 – Check Your Credit
There’s a reason why it’s a law that American citizens are entitled to a free annual credit report. It is important to check your credit report to make sure that everything is accurate. Sometimes just a single little mistake can cost you big in higher interest rates or cause you to get turned down for a loan. Just go to www.annualcreditreport.com and fill in your information.

Compare the information listed to the paid accounts, outstanding debts and addresses that are listed on your report. Check to make sure that your name is spelled correctly and contact the credit reporting agency if you find any errors.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the credit reporting agencies and anyone who reports information about you to be responsible for incomplete or inaccurate information. Even if everything on your credit report is accurate, make sure to check it every year to ensure that nothing changes. Many of the credit problems faced by American adults could be easily resolved by staying on top of this important information.

Tip #2 – Protect Your Identity
Before you throw away any financial paperwork, including bills, pay stubs, statements and other records – even for closed or completely paid off accounts – go through your paperwork and make sure that there isn’t any personal information included. If anything is on the bill, such as your name and address, social security number, account number or payment information, be sure to shred the documents for safety.

The IRS has up to six years to audit your taxes, so the rule of thumb is to only keep six years’ worth of canceled checks, receipts, tax returns and any other records that would support your tax deductions and other financial records. Any records that you aren’t going to keep should be shredded to make sure that no one can access your personal information. Consider joining an identity theft protection program through your local credit union or other financial organization.

Tip #3 – Safeguard Important Papers
If you have important documents, such as your birth certificate, medical records or passwords and log-in information for your local credit union or credit card companies, make sure to keep them in a safe place. Don’t just keep them in a desk drawer or in a basket on the counter. Passwords and other online information can be stored in an encrypted document for safekeeping, while paper documents should be stored in a home safe or lock box.

Tip #4 – Get Smart About Your Bills
Do you have a financial budget? As a credit union member there are many tools that you can use to help you manage your money and start putting away money for emergencies. Your budget should be updated monthly and checked for major changes every quarter to help keep track of expenses and savings contributions. Speak with your credit union in New Bedford for tips on budgeting and saving with your share savings and checking plans.

Speak with your local credit union about online bill pay and electronic e-statements for your credit union member account. E-statements are a great way to reduce the amount of financial records and paperwork in your home. Ask your credit union in New Bedford about online bill pay options and other opportunities that can help you get smart about your bills and reduce your debt.

Tip #5 – Start Saving
If you don’t already have a savings account set up at your local credit union, now is the best time to get started. Contact St. Anne Credit Union in New Bedford for more information about the credit union member share savings plan, money market savings programs and other financial opportunities that can help you to get your credit, bills and financial paperwork in order and under control!