Now that springtime is upon us, it’s time to tidy up the messes we’ve accumulated over the long winter months. But don’t break out that mop and bucket just yet, because spring is also the ideal time to think about cleaning up something else - your finances. Have you looked at your budget recently? Are your credit cards still maxed out from the holidays? Are you ready for Tax Day? Since spring is known as the season to reset and start over, use this time as an opportunity to clean up your finances with these simple and easy steps:
First things first. If you operate on a budget, take a moment to look it over and see how it’s holding up. Print out three months of banking statements and start there. Build yourself a new budget based on how much you spent on things you needed vs how much you spent that could have been saved. This will help you get a good grip on what you’re doing right and what needs to change going forward.
The best way to stay on top of your finances is to keep them organized. Collect any piled-up bank statements, bills and receipts and file them away. If you don’t need them, shred them. Next, go to your bank’s website or mobile app and opt for paperless statements. You should also do this with any other accounts you have, including your credit cards, auto loans, mortgage, etc. This will help keep things organized and less cluttered going forward and think of all the trees you’ll help save.
When was the last time you checked your credit score? Keeping close tabs on your credit score is absolutely essential in this age of security breaches and identity theft. It also gives you the opportunity to look for any errors or false claims and dispute them. You can check your score for free once a year through the three credit reporting agencies, or any time you want with Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
Spring cleaning your finances also means paying off any debt you may have racked up over the holidays. Start by paying off the card with the smallest balance first. An easy victory from paying off a small-balanced card will help keep you motivated to stick to the plan. Don’t worry if it looks like it’s going to take a few years to become debt free. The point is that you’re making progress.
Lastly, sell the stuff around your house that you don’t use, need or want. Since you’re in the process of cleaning your stuff out anyway, now’s the perfect time to start selling off things that are clutter. Hold a yard sale or just sell online with Craigslist or an app like LetItGo. You might be surprised to find how much money you could make from selling some of your unwanted stuff.
If you’ve recently needed a title loan or some other type of emergency loan to cover an unexpected expense, then giving your finances the spring cleaning treatment is a good idea. You’ll feel so much better about the months ahead knowing your home and your finances are in good shape and ready to take on the rest of the year.