Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for January?Financial Fitness.
Today's task: Figure out where your money is.
We're all still recovering from the holidays, which can take a serious toll on the wallet. So let's start at square one. Knowing where all your money is located is the first step in being able to assess your financial fitness and set some goals.
This may seem obvious, but have you ever found yourself saying something like, "So, my grandmother used to put some money into some account every year for my birthday. I'm not sure where it is or what's happened to it, but it's there"? It's time to find that money and fold it into your portfolio. Perhaps you can use it to pay off outstanding debt or start a short-term emergency fund. Maybe you'll leave it where it is, but when you know about it, you can use it to your advantage. There are also services such as as missingmoney.com that can tell you whether or there are accounts in your name. It may be a long shot, but it's worth a try.
Here are some tips to help you figure out where your money is hidden:
- Know where you stand with your health care deductible: both how much it is, and how much you've already used up.
- On a related note, if you had a Flexible Spending Account (money taken out pre-tax that can be used for a variety of health care expenses) with your employer for 2011, contact your HR department and find out how much you have remaining in that account. Any FSA money you didn't use by the of the year (or your employer's grace period) is forfeited. Furthermore, the list of FSA-eligible expenses has just decreased considerably, most notably with the elimination of over-the-counter drugs. So if you're still able to elect an FSA amount for 2012, plan accordingly.
- Ladies, check your purses. Gentledudes, empty your pockets. Everyone, be cognizant of the little places where money can collect. Although it's a nice occurrence to find a wet $5 bill in your pocket, it probably shouldn't happen. Keeping track of the small change won't make you rich, but it's a good habit to get into.
- Know where your negative money is as well. Debt can be elusive, and convenient to ignore, but knowing what you owe is equally as important as knowing what is already yours. Knowing both can help you match assets to liabilities, bring you to zero and start you on your way.
So ask yourself, where's my money? Write it all down.
And come back tomorrow for the next task in our Financial Fitness challenge.