investing

Spring clean your home finances

If you can't stand the thought of going through your retirement investments annually, consider putting your money in a target date fund, offered by most major mutual fund companies. The fund will rebalance automatically, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Also look at beneficiaries. If you put your parents as beneficiaries of a 401(k) plan you got from your first job, you may want to change that if you've married or had a child. Similarly, if you've gotten divorced, you'll probably want to remove your ex as a beneficiary.

Finally, consider increasing your 401(k) savings. At the minimum, be sure to save enough to earn the full match from your company. If you increase your savings at the same time as your annual raise, you probably won't even miss the extra cash.

Insurance

  • What to do: Get new quotes for car, home and life insurance policies; update beneficiaries.
  • Cost: None, unless you upgrade your policies.
  • Time involved: Plan to spend a couple hours doing research.
  • Details: Term life, car and some homeowner insurance policies have gone down in price over the past few years, says Lankford. If you haven't shopped around for a new policy recently, you may find that a bit of research can save you hundreds of dollars. Insureme.com, a Bankrate company, is a good place to start.

As you're shopping around, be sure you're sufficiently covered. If you've done significant renovations or additions to your house and haven't revised the policy, be sure to take those upgrades into account. "It doesn't cost that much to add, but it could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in your payout," Lankford says. Web sites such as www.Accucoverage.com can help you determine the replacement cost of your home as you update your information.

Give your life insurance policies a second look if you've had a major life change. A new baby might warrant increased coverage, for example, while a divorce or death might require a beneficiary change.

If you renew or change any policies, shred your old documents, says DiQuollo. "Once you renew a policy, you can get rid of the old one," he says. "I've never heard of anyone needing an old one."

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