Spring Clean Your Finances
We’ve already talked about how certain spring cleaning tasks can help you save money. Now it’s time to give your finances the spring cleaning treatment, too. The change of seasons is always a good marker to take stock of where you are and what you’re doing financially, and begin making any necessary adjustments.
Clear the Clutter
Everything – from pounds to paper — seems to build up during the winter. The first step to spring clean your finances is to gather all financial paperwork in one place, then sort through it and decide what to keep and what to toss. If you’ve been meaning tomake the switch to paperless statements, now is the time to do it; you’ll have even less paper to worry about the next time around. General guidelines for keeping and shredding are:
Keep – Tax records, legal documents, warranties
Shred – Bills, bank statements, pay stubs and anything else you can easily access online
Cut the Dead Weight
Are you throwing away money on things you don’t need or no longer use? Review your checking account for all automatic debits such as gym memberships and subscription renewals and cancel any you’re not using. Also review home entertainment options, cell phone and internet plans to see if you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Still subscribe to cable? This might change your mind.
Know Where You Stand
When was the last time you looked at a copy of your credit report? If you can’t remember, it’s time to get copies from the three major credit bureaus and review them for any errors or inaccuracies. It’s also a chance to see what you can do to improve your credit score. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get yours now.
Start or Increase Saving
Increase the amounts you’re contributing to your 401k and emergency fund by as much as you can afford. You might feel a little initial pinch in your cash flow, but before you know it you won’t even miss it.
And if you’re still not saving, start now! The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates nearly half of all Americans are financially fragile – meaning they would be unable to come up with $2,000 within 30 days.
Remove yourself from that statistic. Set an attainable savings goal, work toward it and reward yourself when you reach it (but not by going shopping). Think of how great you’ll feel this time next year knowing you have a growing emergency fund available if you need it.
If you need some help getting your finances organized or planning a budget, free Credit Counseling can help! It’s easy to get started right now.