Most of us find ourselves stuck at home while we continue to practice social distancing measures. Consider using your time at home to work on spring cleaning your financial picture. Like many others, you may have several “to do” items that you have been too busy to complete or forgot about entirely.

With so much uncertainty about the stock market, employment, and the general state of affairs, you might not want to spend a lot of time looking at your investments, budgeting, or related items. There are, however, plenty of other things you can do to help improve your financial foundation. Here’s a list of a few ideas:

Check Your Credit Report

Take advantage of your free annual credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This will let you see if companies have made an error in their financial reporting or if anyone has been adding accounts under your identity.

Protect Your Identity

You may also want to contact the major credit bureaus to freeze or restrict your credit. That could help prevent someone from being able to take out a new credit line in your name-just don’t do this if you’re in the middle of applying for a new mortgage or refinance (we suggest waiting until the loan is closed before freezing your credit as to not disrupt the application process).

Each agency may charge a fee for freezing and unfreezing your credit unless you are already the victim of identity theft. However, some credit agencies provide a free service that is similar to freezing your credit. Keep in mind that the time and cost for setting these up are minimal compared to the time and cost of resolving identity theft.

Visit these sites to learn more about freezing your credit:

https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze2

http://www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance/?/CreditReportAssistance

https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

https://www.innovis.com/securityFreeze/index

Update Your Passwords

With so many sites requiring passwords, people often create one that they can easily remember and use it for every site they can. The problem is that easily remembered passwords are also easily hacked, and passwords used on multiple sites create more opportunity for thieves. Take the time to create complex passwords and update them every few months. Also, don’t use the same password for all websites. If you’d like to have all of your passwords in one, easily accessible place, consider doing some research for a password manager.

Also, consider using two-factor authentication for all of your accounts (financial, email, Apple/digital products, social media, etc.). With two-factor authentication, you typically get a text or email with a code after you enter your password online. This helps to verify that you are the one trying to access your account. If someone else tries to access your account, you should be immediately aware as you’ll receive a text or email with a verification code.

Check Your Beneficiaries

Yes, it’s a depressing subject during depressing times, but you might need to update the beneficiaries on one or more of your accounts. If the primary beneficiary on all of your accounts continues to meet your estate objectives, consider adding a contingent (or back-up) beneficiary to your accounts in the event your primary beneficiary predeceases you. Consult your financial advisor and estate attorney for tips and strategies to use when selecting beneficiaries-especially if you plan to incorporate charitable giving.

Donate to Charity

One of the provisions of the CARES Act is an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations. If you currently are unable to itemize your deductions and have a little extra cash, it might be a great time to give to a charitable organization. Many organizations are doing great work to help people impacted by the coronavirus or its economic impact. Many other organizations are struggling to stay afloat as individual, grant, and corporate donations are drying up. See your tax advisor about the deductibility of your charitable donations.

Set a goal of completing at least one of these items a day. It will help keep this from becoming overwhelming and will help you feel productive about working to improve your financial picture. Contact us with any questions you may have and stay well.

The opinions voiced in this material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice to any individual.  Consult your legal, tax, and/or financial advisor to determine what is appropriate for your situation.

As a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), Partnership Wealth Management is committed to providing our clients with financial planning and wealth management services to help them work towards their financial goals. At Partnership Wealth Management, we have a long history of working with the LGBT community. Among the many services we offer are financial planning and estate planning strategies for gay and lesbian couples. Financial planning is an important part of preparing for the future; contact us today to get started: www.partnershipwm.com.

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Author Profile

Woody Derricks, CFP®
Woody Derricks, CFP®
Throughout my nearly 20 years as a Financial Advisor, I have seen some of the best and worst markets in our history. That experience allows me to approach my clients with the knowledge of how the markets fit into their greater financial picture. At Partnership Wealth Management we help everyday people who have accumulated wealth make sense of what they have and work with them to maximize their financial opportunities in a relaxed, comfortable, and professional environment. While we help people from all walks of life, many of our clients are same-sex couples searching for a knowledgeable, LGBT-friendly financial advisor to help them with their unique financial planning needs. I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and have the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor(sm) designation. As a Registered Investment Advisor, we are not tied to any company’s investment products allowing us to provide unbiased advice by offering a wide array of investments and other products to our clients. Since 2001, I have been writing articles on financial planning for several regional newspapers and have been a guest speaker on LGBT financial issues for various local and national organizations. Additionally, I have conducted financial planning workshops for large corporations and government agencies. Non-Profit Work I believe that it is important to give back to the community and currently serve as the treasurer for FreeState Justice and as a co-founder/president of Paws for a Cause. I’m a current member of several LBGT, environmental, and local community groups. Personal My wife, Heidi and I enjoy camping, hiking, and traveling with our daughter, Elise, and our dogs, Fenway & Roxy. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.