The time is now: Here's how to clean up your finances

Posted at 5:06 PM, May 27, 2019

CLEVELAND — Good financial habits set you up for success in the future, but when should you get started? Experts say that time is now.

"We had to believe that we could do this because most people that we knew hadn't paid off debt, or hadn't started saving and it just feels overwhelming,” Amanda Sharratt said.

Sharratt is a wife and mom from Medina. She and her husband signed up for a financial planning class at their church and it changed their lives.

"Throughout that process, we paid off $141,000 in 3.5 years,” Sharratt said.

Now, she's a financial coach.

"I just thought people need to know about this, people need to know the freedom that comes with paying off debt and saving money,” Sharratt said.

Amanda says the biggest factor in paying off their debt was communication with her husband.

"Noticing it and starting to budget and getting on the same page and talking about money because we really hadn't ever even talked about money, we just paid our bills and, you know, whatever we just did our own thing."

But even if you don't have as much debt as the Sharratt family, financial experts say staying in the know is key to keeping your money in check.

Jim Lineweaver, CFP®, AIF®, President and Founder, Lineweaver Financial Group, Inc.

"What you really want to do is look at everything you have going on, all your financial, tax, legal, and insurance,” Jim Lineweaver, CFP®, AIF®, President and Founder, Lineweaver Financial Group, Inc., said.

That means creating a budget and sticking to it.

And while it may seem intimidating at first, new banking technology makes it simple.

"They sometimes can categorize what you're spending things on, but if you don't have that sophistication at your banks, you know years ago or in the olden days we used to use Quicken, but there's also Mint and a lot of other apps out there too,” Lineweaver said.

Get a free credit report every year and check for any discrepancies.

Also, review your tax withholdings, check other deductions like your 401k contribution, flexible savings account, and IRA to make sure they're all up to date and adjusted if need be.

"A lot of times if you get a promotion at work or a pay raise or something like that, you don't automatically think of these other items that can help save you tax money,” Mark Sipos, Director, LFG Tax Services, Ltd., said.

And Amanda says whatever you do, start out slow and work your way up.

"I relate it to a crash diet. Just like a crash diet really doesn't work for the long term, same thing for a budget. If you try to just cut everything out of your life and just say OK we're going to do this, oftentimes you give up on it because you're like this is just so terrible, I'm not able to live my life,” Sharratt said.