WASHINGTON (2/29/12)--Credit unions can celebrate Leap Year today by pointing out to members that they have an extra 24 hours this year to get their finances in order.
According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the phenomenon that makes Feb. 29 occur only once every four years provides an extra day that consumers can dedicate to tackling the financial tasks they've been procrastinating.
NFCC has some suggestions that credit unions can share with members on how to use the day:
Prepare federal income taxes. Members can gather all the 1099s, W-2s, and receipts for deductions. These items will be needed to prepare an accurate tax return.
Create or organize a home financial center. Create files for each category of financial documents to stay organized all year long. It will make preparing next year's tax returns much simpler.
Review all insurance policies. Making a claim is not the time to become familiar with one's insurance policy. "Insurance is not something to buy and forget, as life changes often dictate adjustments to the policy. Make an appointment with your insurance provider to confirm that your current needs match your coverage," said NFCC.
Review retirement contributions. With the payroll tax cut, Americans have extra money in their paychecks. The best use of this money could be increasing the retirement contribution at work, said NFCC. Maximize the benefits of an employer match and age-related allowable contribution increases.
Order your credit report and score. Many people don't realize that their credit score is related to information on their credit report. Although consumers can get free reports through www.annualcreditreport.com, NFCC said its Financial Literacy study revealed that 65% of Americans had not ordered a credit report in the past 12 months, and 63% indicated they had not ordered their credit score. These numbers dictate much of consumers' financial future, said NFCC.
"Those who use the extra time afforded by Leap Year to accomplish these five financial moves will wake up March 1st with a well-earned sense of accomplishment," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "The efforts they put forth on this bonus day will yield rewards throughout the year."