The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter, and everyone is thinking about airing out their houses and washing windows.
Spring cleaning holds a different meaning for everyone, but usually involves a routine of once-a-year chores, purging, organizing, and refreshing. While you’re doing your spring cleaning around the house this year, don’t forget that your finances also need a spring refresh.
Once you set up your budget, your files, your payment plans, and your savings or investment contributions, it’s easy to let them run themselves, and in so doing, remain unaware of simple updates or improvements that could be saving you more money.
Here are a few aspects of your financial household you should be dusting off and giving a refresh this spring.
1. Clean Up Your Budget
Budgets should never be set in stone, especially since your income, needs, wants, goals, and the cost of living are constantly changing. Spring (during tax preparation, ideally) is a good time to evaluate your current budget and decide if it still works for you, or if it needs to be adjusted.
Check to see if you’re consistently over or under-budgeting in key areas, and determine why. Don’t give in to bad habits by expanding your budget to accommodate them, but notice trends that could indicate a change in your priorities or needs.
Chop, hack, consolidate, and challenge yourself with a budget that will help you meet your financial goals.
2. Consolidate Payments and Go Paperless
Are you paying numerous loans or debts with varying interest rates? If your credit is good, it might be time to consolidate your debts into one loan.
Not only will you have an easier time keeping track of your payments, you could be saving yourself hundreds of dollars a year in interest! Consider automatic deductions so you don’t miss payments and risk late fees, and e-statements and billing to avoid paperwork.
While we’re talking about going paperless, one of the best ways to do this is to install one of many popular budgeting and spending apps: an easy way to make your financial habits truly mobile and constantly visible.
3. Compare to Get Better Deals
Once a year you should check the competitive rates on car insurance, cell phone plans, Internet or cable providers, etc. The chances are that you’ll find at least one service you can save money on while getting a better deal.
Simply mentioning to your service provider that you might be switching to the competition is sometimes an effective way to secure better terms while avoiding the hassle of switching carriers. Consider any changes in your household, lifestyle, or personal information that could effect your rates, and make sure they are up-to-date.
4. Check Your Credit Report
Regular spring cleaning of your credit report is important and could boost your credit score while keeping you abreast of your identity theft risk.
Spend a bit of time looking over everything thoroughly and make corrections to any errors you find. A common item on credit reports are open but unused credit cards, which are one of the easiest items to clear up. Check out free services like CreditKarma.com or Quizzle.com.
5. Clean Out Files and Wallets
We all know the importance of retaining important financial records, and that receipts are a good way to track expenses and ensure merchandise returns. What is often overlooked is the importance of shredding old paperwork that is simply creating clutter and threatening your financial security.
Stick to clearing out certain things from your wallet and only readily keep the few papers you need accessible in case of an emergency.
Make time during your spring cleaning routine to overview these aspects of your finances, and you’ll be more organized and secure while saving every penny possible.
How do you prep your finances for spring? What’s another step for getting organized that can save you money in the long-term?
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