Financial Planning

Simplify Your Life

Streamline your finances, cut the clutter and free up time for things that matter.

Below you will find smart moves you can make to consolidate and simplify your investments, retirement plans, credit cards and more.

SIMPLE INVESTING

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on simple investing, you should consider:

  • Consolidating your assets in fewer accounts to cut down on paperwork and save money on fees.

  • Buying index funds, which replicate an index of stocks or bonds and will provide at least average returns.

  • Looking to target-date funds if you want only one investment because they handle asset allocation and rebalance automatically.

MONEY TASKS MADE EASY

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on money tasks made easy, you should consider:

  • Signing up at a personal budgeting site, such as Mint.com, to see how much you're spending and where.

  • Taking advantage of online bill-paying through your bank to eliminate paperwork and the need to balance your checkbook.

  • Consolidating credit-card balances onto a single low-interest card or with a home-equity line of credit to cut down on the number of monthly payments you have to make.

STREAMLINE RETIREMENT

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on streamline retirement, you should consider:

  • Saying "yes" to your company's automatic 40(k) enrollment plan and auto-escalation option for account contributions.

  • Investing in a target-date fund and let the pros handle the details.

  • Consolidating retirement accounts from previous jobs into one IRA -- or just a few.

BENEFITS WITH LESS STRESS

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on benefits with less stress, you should consider:

  • Signing up for automatic flexible-spending account deductions to save you the trouble of submitting claims or use an FSA debit card.

  • Getting 90-day prescriptions for drugs you regularly take to save yourself the trouble of monthly trips to the pharmacy.

  • Setting up a personal health record on your insurers Web site and print out your records when you go to a new doctor so you don't have to fill in all that paperwork.

LOWER MAINTENANCE

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on lower maintenance, you should consider:

  • Planting slow-growing trees and shrubs so you don't have to spend time pruning.

  • Choosing turf and flowers suited to your climate to save on water, fertilizer and work.

  • Planting ground covers to replace annual mulching.

HELP WITH HOME TECH

Among the tactics revealed in the full article on home tech, you should consider:

  • Buying a universal remote so you don't waste time looking for multiple remotes to operate your electronic systems.

  • Downloading free mapping software to your smart phone, rather than buying a separate gadget.

  • Hiring the pros to help install game and home-theater components.

MORE GREAT WAYS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE

Online Tools to Help You Simplify Find the best online broker, evaluate college-savings plans, pick a credit card, figure out how much life insurance you need and more.

QUIZ: Lighten Your Financial Load Are you making mountains out of mole hills when it comes to managing your money? Take our quiz to see how easy it is to simplify your financial life.

SLIDE SHOW: Zap the Clutter Free up space in your closet, basement or garage and earn extra cash -- or a tax break.

VIDEO: Turn Clutter Into Extra Cash These sources will help you sell items you no longer need.

SLIDE SHOW: Let the Pros Handle It If you need to lighten your work - or stress - load, let someone else do the heavy lifting.

Goodbye, City Life Felicia Fisher quit her high-powered job to spend more time with her kids on the family farm.

Take a Service Sabbatical Downsize your life by enrolling in a public-service program that will take you overseas.

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