Getting organized is a great feeling. Whether it's your home or your wardrobe, there are many benefits to clearing out the clutter and living more simply. Your money is no different. As you look ahead to a new and exciting phase in your life, consider giving your finances a spring cleaning. Getting organized now means you'll be able to focus on what matters most later. Your future retired self will thank you.
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get started? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you organize your finances in preparation for retirement.
1. Take stock of your retirement benefits
Ok, here's the million-dollar question: are you financially ready for retirement? For most people, RRSPs are just part of the income equation. Pensions (workplace and government), income from investments held outside an RRSP, and other revenue sources can all help fund your retirement. If you've held jobs at different companies over your career, you may have a pension or retirement plan in different places. Take an overall look at where you stand for a better picture of how you'll fund your retirement.
Tip: An advisor can help you figure out how to organize your information and maximize these income sources.
2. Trim your spending
Ever taken a close look at your credit card or bank statement and been surprised by the total amount of recurring charges you owe each month? Or even (gasp!) forgotten you’d still been paying for something? Now is a good time to consider recurring costs like gym memberships or subscriptions. These ongoing charges can have a long-term effect on your finances, especially if you're not using them.
Tip: Find out if you can save money on housing, utilities and phone bills by moving, refinancing or switching providers.
3. Streamline your bank accounts
Retirement is all about simplifying your life to focus on the things that matter most to you. Part of that process should involve making your finances easy to deal with. If you have several accounts, it may make sense to spring clean your accounts by consolidating them. When you simplify your finances, it's easier to manage your money and get a better view of what's going in and out of your account.
Tip: Don't forget to take a closer look at new banking benefits and packages that may better suit you for this new stage in life.
4. Consolidate your credit cards
It's not necessarily bad to have more than one credit card. For example, using cards that have different reward programs or benefits can help you make the most of what you spend. But if you're finding it difficult to keep track of more than one or 2 cards (or struggling with your spending habits), having just one card and another strictly for emergencies is a good way to simplify your credit. Narrow it down to ones that offer the lowest interest rates, loyalty benefits and best fit your needs and life stage.
Tip: Before you shift money among cards, find out if there are balance-transfer fees.
5. Purge the paper
It's not just good for the environment, going paper-free helps you save time and money. It also gets rid of physical clutter. Sign up for digital statements with your bank and your bills, but always make sure you have a secure way to back up your files.
Tip: Consider storing important documents in several places including your computer and an external hard drive.
6. Line up your insurance policies
The policies you set up years ago may not be the best fit for you now. If you've reduced your debt, don't have children living at home, and no longer travel far for work for example, you might not need as much insurance. On the other hand, increasing your health insurance might be a good idea as you look ahead to your retirement needs.
Tip: Be sure to shop around for the best rates and terms to make sure you're getting the best value.
7. Dust off your will
It's a good idea to review your will every few years, particularly if you've experienced a major life event. As you look ahead to retirement, give some thought to what's changed in your life. Do you have new grandchildren? Has there been a change in your relationship status? Make sure you update your will to reflect your wishes and help provide for the people you care about the most. Plus, consider making an enduring or continuing power of attorney, a written authorization for another person to make financial and health decisions for you if you're not able.
Tip: If you don't have a will, get legal and financial advice to make one that best suits your estate needs.