Financial spring cleaning can brighten your investment picture

April 9, 2014

The days are getting longer and warmer - a sure indication of the arrival of spring. Another sign of the season may be the urge you get to do some spring cleaning. But you might not have realized that some of the same spring-cleaning techniques that can be used on your home can also apply to your investments and your overall financial strategy.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Get rid of clutter. As you do your spring cleaning, you may well find some clutter - a bunch of items you no longer need. As an investor, you might look at your portfolio and also find clutter in the form of investments that are no longer appropriate for your objectives. For example, perhaps some of them are virtual duplicates of other investments you own, thereby diminishing your potential for diversification. Or maybe some investments are now too risky for your needs. In any case, you may be better off rebalancing your portfolio.

Get organized. As you clean your home, you might find ways to organize your belongings and furniture more efficiently. And you may also be able to organize your investments more effectively. One possibility: Consider consolidating your investment accounts with one provider. If you have an IRA here, another one there and some other investments scattered about, you may be paying more in fees and commissions than is necessary. By consolidating these investments, you might save money and paperwork - and more importantly, you may find it easier, with all your investments under one roof, to follow a single, unified investment strategy.

Seal the cracks. Over time, the grout between your kitchen or bathroom tiles can crack, so you'll need to regrout to protect your flooring. And you may find that, in looking at your overall financial strategy, your protection component - primarily in the form of insurance - might have developed some cracks or chips. Specifically, has your life insurance kept up with changes in your family situation? Events such as marriage, remarriage or the arrival of a new child can all trigger the need to review your life insurance. And you'll also want to make sure you have adequate disability insurance. Consult with a financial professional for information on appropriate protection vehicles.

Do some dusting. As part of your spring cleaning, you may need to dust furniture, shelves and other surfaces in your home. And if you've been investing for a long time, you may need to metaphorically dust off your financial strategy to reflect changes in your life. To cite one possibility, as you get close to retirement, you may need to shift some - but certainly not all - of your growth-oriented investments into income-producing ones. But you may also need to review and revise your financial strategy at other points in your life, such as when you begin saving for your children’s college education.

Just as spring cleaning can bring more light into your home, sprucing up your investment picture can help you brighten your financial outlook. And these improvements can help you in all the seasons of your life.


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