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7 steps to clean up financial clutter

Cleanup is worth the effort
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Financial clutter isn't as visible as an inaccessible garage full of stuff. But a multitude of bank accounts, credit cards, 401(k) plans and the like can cause not only major hassles, but also an insidious nibbling away of the clutterer's assets.

Fortunately, financial clutter can be cleaned up, and the payoffs -- lower banking costs, less risk of identity theft, better financial planning and an end to the chaos -- are well-worth the time and effort.

"This takes work," says Conrad Ciccotello, director of personal planning programs at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "It takes real energy to reverse the disorder. If you don't do it, it becomes more cluttered. If you've moved the system to a higher state of order, you'll look at differently because you know if you let it go again, it's going to take a lot of work to clean it up."

Here are seven steps to get your financial clutter in order.




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