My book 60 Days to Change is a great resource for improving your financial life, and I’m not even just saying that because I wrote the book. Okay, I’m not only saying that because I wrote it. Anyway, it’s a great book because it walks you through how to transform your financial life, step-by-step and day-by-day. Over the next few months I’m going to highlight different elements and topics from the book that I haven’t talked about on the blog before.
First up, is the hunt and gather stage.
You can have all the personal financial wisdom in the universe but if you don’t know your own numbers and information, it’ll do you no good. The first step to any good financial evaluation is to hunt for and gather up all your personal financial information. This is an often skipped over step because everyone likes to think they know their own stuff. But I promise, if you actually go through this list and gather everything up, you’ll be surprised by how spread-out and messy your financial life is. A mix of online accounts, current bills piled up on a side table, old bills in a box in the closet, and wherever you’ve decided to hide important documents, are just a few of the place you’ll have to go to find all the information you need to complete a financial evaluation.
Here’s the full list of what you need to gather before you can fully evaluate where you are in your financial life:
Bank statements (last three months)
Credit card statements (last three months)
Student loan details (rate, term, payment)
Car loan details (payment, balance, final payment date)
Pay stubs for all income in the last month
Mortgage details (balance, rate, term, equity, type)
Personal loan details (balance, rate, term, payment)
Auto insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Home insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Renters insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Life insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Health insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Disability insurance details (premium, coverage amounts)
Any other insurance?
Bank balances (checking and savings)
Word of caution: gathering all these documents isn’t a win. Organization doesn’t equal financial wellness. The evaluation only begins after everything is gathered. By having all your information in one place you’ll be able to go through your financial life and see behavior patterns, gaps in coverage, and long-forgotten accounts. By thoroughly evaluating where you are in your financial life you’ll better understand where you want to go, and what you need to focus on in order to get there.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.