Get your finances in shape

January 26, 2010 4:25:57 PM PST
Tackle money tasks one at a time and get your family's financial situation in the best shape ever this new year!

Do you handle your money or does your money handle you? There are basic financial fundamentals that we all need to address every year. It's a New Year and money mentor Valerie Coleman Morris says it's time for everyone to get a financial grip! She says the timing couldn't be better.

Valerie's message: Everybody's in a "clean slate" state of mind. It's the New Year. These aren't resolutions. These are doable, incremental, achievable money management goals that will alleviate a lot of money anxieties.

Money mindset: Once a month is all it takes. By year's end, you've done at least a dozen things to take care of your money and improve your money knowledge.

JANUARY: Get your free annual credit reports.

  • Only from the government mandated website
  • Read them, challenge in writing anything that's incorrect or not yours
  • Know what's being said about you and your money
FEBRUARY: Organize your documents
  • Use folders and label (Receipts 2010, insurance, investments, etc)
  • Create a safe place to store
MARCH: Review all your insurances
  • Life, health, disability, long-term care and casualty
  • has a calculator to help figure out how much insurance you need
APRIL: Review all your debts
  • Credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, any long-term obligations
  • Check to see if rates and/or terms have changed
MAY: Review your will and update it
  • Especially if major life changes such as births, deaths, divorce, marriage, job loss or relocation.
  • 66 percent of Americans do not have a will
  • If you have children and no will, the state will decide their guardianship
JUNE: Find a certified financial planner
  • A good tool is The National Association of Certified Financial Planners
  • Be sure to know how they get paid (fee only, hourly, % of assets)
JULY: Review employer matched savings programs
  • Make sure you're contributing the % necessary to qualify
  • Check the diversity of your investment portfolio
AUGUST: Determine your net worth

  • List the value of all your assets and possessions
  • List the amount of your liabilities and debt
  • Helps accurately determine the level of home/renters insurance you need
SEPTEMBER: Go paperless with bills
  • Every account that's paperless can be retrieved online 24 hours a day
  • Saves time and money - no stamps needed
  • Convert to online banking and bill paying
OCTOBER: Create an automatic savings contribution
  • Easy to set up an automatic, recurring transfer with your bank to move money from checking to savings
  • The easiest money saved is money you never see
NOVEMBER: Check your retirement contribution
  • Set up contribution that coincides with your pay day
  • The best time to start saving for your retirement is in your 20s
DECEMBER: Analyze your auto insurance coverage
  • Make sure you're getting the best deal and are adequately covered
Remember that mind over money matters. Make a decision to just read the first paragraph of stories on the front page and Marketplace page of the Wall Street Journal, for example, and see how your interest and your money knowledge will grow.

About Valerie Coleman Morris:

Valerie Coleman (now Valerie Coleman Morris) was a Bay Area native when it comes to television news. She began her career in the early 70s in San Francisco at KRON-TV as a reporter and then KGO-TV as a long time anchor. She was part of the Van Amburg/Jerry Jensen/Pete Giddings news team that branded "happy talk" as a new news genre.

Valerie's the former Business Anchor for CNN domestic and international - her dozen daily reporters were seen every day by more than 290 million households, businesses and airport networks.

She still appears on CNN as a personal finance guest expert but now focuses her works as a financial journalist/educator with a unique point of view about money. Her "mind over money matters" approach gives the thought process for a behavioral change: re-calculating your relationship with your personal money.

Valerie's mantra: "It's your money, so take it personally."

Valerie's blog site "Women and Money:" Posts domestically, internationally every Thursday --

Valerie's daily podcast "Valuable Money Tips" For professional women --

CBS Network Radio "With the Family in Mind - Money Matters:" Three times a week syndicated radio column