Is it Time for a Financial Tune-up?

June 14, 2012

Michael Girazian
Union Bank, N.A.
Senior Vice President and Regional Manager

Summer road trips remind us that it may be time for a vehicle tune up. Just like regular maintenance prevents damage to your vehicle and helps ensure a smoother and safer ride, regular financial tune ups can help keep you on the road to financial security and stability.

Following are some tips to help you keep your finances in good working order:

Review Important Financial Documents

Pull copies of your will and/or living trust, insurance policies and other important documents and review them to make sure they are up to date. Obtain a copy of your credit report and have errors corrected. To get a free credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting bureaus, go to annualcreditreport.com.

 

Seek Lower Interest Rates

If you carry a balance on your credit cards, call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate, or seek alternatives elsewhere.  If you notice that mortgage rates have dropped two or more points lower than what you are paying, you might consider refinancing your home mortgage at a lower interest rate.  Take into consideration fees or pre-payment clauses that may apply, and if you’re thinking of selling your home in the next three to five years, the amount you save on refinancing may not cover the closing costs.

Negotiate Lower Bills

Compare home and auto insurance plans and contact your insurance agent and ask if you can reduce your rate. Contact your utility company to inquire about possible ways to save on your bill.  Consider bundling cable, phone and internet services to determine if you can find a monthly savings.

Pay Down Debt
Credit card bills, student loans and other debts can be a burden on a budget, and the balances almost always accumulate interest, adding to your debt. Look for ways to pay down debt -- set up automatic payments and do your best to pay more than the minimum amount each month.  If you can manage it, try to make at least one extra mortgage payment every year. You'll pay off your loan years sooner and save thousands of dollars in interest.

Look for Ways to Save and Invest More

Saving is an important part of any plan to achieve a financial goal and investing is a long term activity that involves strategies to put your money to work for you. Evaluate your household budget and look for ways to contribute more to savings and investments.  Discuss investment opportunities with your banker or financial advisor that fit your risk tolerance and contribute to your investments on a regular basis.

 

Meet with Your Financial Advisor

It is important to meet with your banker or investment advisor regularly to review your holdings and take into consideration any changing goals or circumstances. It is especially important to talk to your financial advisor if there has been a lifestyle change, such as marriage, birth, death or divorce, or a change in your financial position.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about considering a financial tune up and is not considered financial advice from Union Bank.  Please consult your financial or tax advisor.

Michael Girazian is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, N.A.  Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operates 407 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York and Illinois, as well as two international offices. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations. Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.

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