Spring is here! With this season comes a new hope, new life, rejuvenation, and everything feels renewed. Many people start the seemingly never-ending process of “Spring Cleaning” their homes, but what about their personal finances?
Spring is also an ideal time to consider getting organized, simplifying your budgeting and savings process, and setting yourself up for financial success in the coming months. I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks to help you “Spring Clean” your finances and get ready to have some fun this Summer!
1. Budget –
The first thing you should tackle is either creating a budget (if you don’t already have one) or updating and reviewing your current household budget. You can’t handle your finances properly unless you know “how much money is coming in”, “how much money is going out”, and exactly “where” that money is going every month.
2. Organize –
One of the most important things you can do while Spring Cleaning is to organize! Create an “I.C.E.” folder (In Case of Emergency) that will have ALL of your most important financial information and copies of vital documents. This is a great idea especially if you are the main person that handles the household finances. In the “ICE” folder you should include items such as your account numbers, usernames and passwords, a complete list of bills that you pay each month, investment and retirement fund account info, and anything else that would need to be handled in your absence.
3. Automate –
Don’t just make automatic bill payments, make everything automatic! If you haven’t made your savings contributions automatic by now, you’re a little behind the curve. See if your paycheck can automatically be deposited into your checking account. If you have the ability to split up your direct deposit, then take full advantage of that and put some money into a savings account as well as your checking account. To help avoid “account-draining” surprises, stick with automating only recurring payments that are the same every month, like your mortgage or car payment.
4. Go Paperless –
Papers, folders, binders, filing cabinets, huge piles of credit card statements and bills, envelopes, etc. It’s time to clean up the mess and go paperless! Getting rid of that filing cabinet filled with old bills and statements can feel amazing. Scan your important documents if you can’t already access them online. It will make finding them so much easier too. Use free “Cloud” storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This is where the I.C.E. folder will come in handy because as things become more and more electronic and transactions take place online, it can be difficult to access accounts or handle your finances when you’re gone. If your loved ones can’t login to your online accounts then it becomes almost impossible for them to do anything. Having that I.C.E. folder with login information and passwords becomes imperative.
5. Consolidate –
It’s a great time to consolidate your accounts, get rid of unused accounts that no longer serve a purpose, and toss ALL of those old checks and bank statements. If you have multiple bank accounts or savings accounts open that you rarely use, consider consolidating and then closing them. If you’ve been unhappy with your bank, now is a great time to switch banks. Check out your retirement accounts because some people have at least one retirement account from an old employer that’s just sitting there. Instead of dealing with multiple retirement accounts, consider rolling old accounts into a new one to streamline your savings.
6. Tax Withholding –
If you are receiving a large tax return this year you may be celebrating, but a big return can sometimes mean that you gave the Government an interest-free loan all year that came right out of your paychecks. When you’re setting up your tax withholding, your goal should be to attain a nice balance. Try to get as much money as possible in each of your paychecks without owing the IRS money when you file your taxes. It’s a good idea to adjust your withholding as needed to achieve this goal.
7. Go Shopping –
Now is the perfect time to shop around for savings with things like homeowners insurance, car insurance, etc. If it’s been awhile since you shopped around for better rates on your life insurance, cable bill, cell phone plan, or other monthly recurring things, then now is the time. You should be looking around for better rates at least once a year, but preferably twice a year, to ensure that you are not overpaying for these services. It’s completely free to get quotes from different companies to compare with what you’re paying now.
8. Get out of Debt –
Spring is all about renewal and starting over fresh. Why not tackle your debt to start down the path to financial freedom? There is no better time than now to face your debt head on! Start with a free credit counseling session to see exactly where you stand with your personal finances. Get your “financial picture” so you can properly assess the situation, and make the best decisions for you and your family. It’s completely free, confidential, secure, and easy to get started. Give us a call at 1-866-699-2227 or visit us online at www.advantageccs.org for free online credit counseling. You can also visit us in-person at one of our six locations. We are here to help you!
When it comes to spring cleaning, you probably haul the garbage out of your garage or attic, tidy up the basement, scrub your fridge inside and out, clean the rugs or carpets, and wash the curtains. But don’t forget about your personal finances! Just after tax season is the perfect time to perform an annual evaluation of your finances, work on your household budget, check out your bank accounts, eliminate debts, and look at your investments. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you out when you’re getting everything organized and all cleaned up!
Do you have any Spring Cleaning tips or tricks? They could be for your house or your finances! We’d love to hear them! Please leave us a comment below. Thank you!