The holidays are quickly approaching, and for many people, that means an increase in spending. So as you prepare for the holiday season, it's important to make sure your finances are in order now, so you don't end up with a broken budget later.
To help you stay on track, we've combined a few Clark Smart tips with a new Consumer Reports checklist of easy ways to organize your financial life this month!
7 easy ways to organize your financial life in October
1. File your taxes
For people who requested an extension on their 2014 taxes, the deadline to file is October 15. Check out CR's Tax Guide for tips on preparing and filing taxes, as well as filing security.
2. Get your free credit report
You can get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year, for free. So it's a good idea to space out when you get each report throughout the year, to keep up with your credit history and to make sure there are no errors. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Also, check out Clark's Free Credit Report Guide for more information.
3. Make sure you're "surfing" safely
October is cyber-security awareness month, so now is a great time to make sure all of your devices, as well as your personal information, are secure.
- Update the security software on all of your devices.
- Make sure all of your passwords are strong and that you are not using the same password for your online banking that you're using anywhere else online.
- Store your passwords in a safe and secure place.
- Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi.
- Check out this app that monitors your credit card for fraudulent charges.
4. Make a budget for holiday shopping
Holiday spending has a major impact on household finances, which means it's never too early to start planning on how to make more responsible holiday spending decisions this year. Check out this guide on how to budget now for holiday shopping and spending.
Read more: Step-by-step guide to setting up a budget
Consumer Reports points out that one great way to keep your holiday shopping budget on track is to set up price alerts on sites like DealAlerter, Price Grabber and Price Pinx, so you can know when certain items you're interested in go on sale. Also, check out FreeShipping.org for free shipping offers throughout the holiday season.
5. Take advantage of seasonal sales
As we get closer to winter, October is a great month to find deals on a variety of outdoor goods and sporting gear. Now is also a great time to find bargains on winter clothing, as retailers make room for more of this year's inventory. Here's a list of products that are on deep discount during October.
6. Make extra cash for the holidays
It's so easy to just put holiday expenses on a credit card, but don't do it, unless you can pay it off IN FULL at the end of the month.
If you don't have a ton of money to spend this holiday season, you may want to consider a few easy ways to make some extra cash. Here's a list of opportunities that pretty much anyone can take advantage of in order to earn some extra cash -- any time of year!
7. Find ways to save on gifts
That's the beauty of starting early -- you have more time to find ways to save.
Buying discount gift cards can save you a ton of money, and no one will ever know you got it on sale. Check out websites like CardPool.com, GiftCardGranny.com and GiftCardRescue.com, which provide people a way to get rid of unwanted gift cards. One man's trash is another man's treasure! You may find a gift card that someone in your family would love to have, and you can buy it as a gift for up to 30% off the face value.