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How to get your finances organized: Atlanta CCCS offers tax time tips

Now is the time to get your finances in order, as tax time is here, whether you like it or not. No matter if you've just completed your 2009 return or are getting organized to beat the April 15 deadline, the Consumer Credit Counsel Service of Greater Atlanta (CCCS) offers these handy tips and reminders.

Mechel Glass, Atlanta CCCS director of education, suggests "while you're pulling together information to file last year's taxes, note which categories have the most activity." Then you can organize files to incorporate categories such as medical expenses, education, mileage, business expenses.

Setting up files now, and actually using them throughout the year, will save time and minimize heartache next year. Another tip would be to make a photocopy if the receipt is on thermal paper, or else you may have a blank slip in a few months time.

Additional basic steps to keep your finances in order from CCCS:

1. Save all credit card receipts in one box or folder, to reconcile with your monthly statement or use for returns or warranty.

2. Organize your bill paying. Some people use a spreadsheet to track each recurring monthly bill. Others pay bills in synch with a paycheck schedule and then file away the bill by vendor, noting payment information and confirmation number.

3. Pay off credit cards. Avoid charging more than you can pay off at the end of the month.

4. Balance your checking account. Reconcile online to avoid unnecessary overdraft fees.

5. Review your insurance policies. Compare rates every few years. Raising deductibles should lower bills.

6. Shredding. Don't fall victim to identity theft, and secure files needing to be retained like tax returns and credit card receipts.

7. Check your credit report at least annually. Hit the related articles box for "The Real Place to Get A Free Copy of your Credit Report" or click this link to go directly to the article.

Overwhelmed? CCCS offers more information or counseling at www.cccsinc.org or 1-800-251CCCS

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