It’s that time of year to clean out your closets, wash your summer clothing, and get ready for spring. But while you’re at it, why not do some spring-cleaning for your finances as well? You are already in the cleaning mindset, and now would be a great time to go through your financial situation and find ways to clean up messes that you may have made in the past. Time to find out if your financial habits spark joy or not!
Throw out your bad habits
Over the winter, and with lingering lockdowns and restrictions, it may have been easy for you to get into bad financial habits. Whether it’s spending extra money on takeout, not taking advantage of your employer’s 401k program, or forgetting to move money from your checking account into your investments in a timely manner. Whether you realize it or not, these bad habits are costing you money. So, let’s throw them right in the trash along with your other spring-cleaning and get back to good financial habits that work for you.
Clean up unnecessary expenses
How long has it been since you analyzed your spending? It might be time to get down into the nitty gritty of your bank account and see where you can cut unnecessary expenses. Don’t just guess how much you are spending each month. Instead, actually dive into your bank account and calculate your spending so you can see exactly where your money is going on a regular basis. You might be surprised at what you find.
Take a financial inventory
Do you know where your money is? Or, how much money you even have? Take stock of your financial standing by taking a financial inventory of all your assets and liabilities to give you a comprehensive overview of your financial standing. This includes:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement/pension accounts
- Student loans
- Credit cards
- Credit reports
Compile this information into one single place, either on paper, or on a cloud. Then, you can easily refer to this information whenever you need to.
Dust off that budget
It’s time to re-examine your monthly budget. This is especially important if you haven’t looked at your budget in a while and life circumstances have changed. A change in your career, home, or family means you need to update your budget. Spring-cleaning gives you the perfect reason to make the appropriate updates.
First, go back and take a look at your most recent budget to see if your spending is in line with your planned budget. This is also the time to take a holistic view of your entire budget and change it as needed.
Use technology to your advantage
Try out one of these mobile apps to help you organize your finances and keep your information secure:
- Mint – Probably the most-well known finance management app, Mint compiles all your finances into one place, and gives you detailed insight into your spending habits.
- You Need a Budget – YNAB is based on the zero-based budgeting system and helps you track and lower your spending. Unfortunately, the app isn’t free, but it could be a small price to pay for better financial habits.
- PocketGuard – Another budgeting app, PocketGuard also comes with added security features to alert you in case of unidentified spending.
- Personal Capital – This money management app paves the path toward retirement with detailed portfolio analysis. You can even incorporate the app’s robo-advisors to help manage your portfolio.
No matter the form of debt, be it from credit cards, a car loan, or anything else, try to cut it down this upcoming season. You can use the extra money you save from reducing your spending to pay back your outstanding debt. Doing so will save you even more money in the long run, allowing you to forgo extra interest payments along the way.
Remember what not to do
With all of these tasks building up, you might find yourself going overboard. Here are some things that you should avoid doing in your financial spring-cleaning.
Don’t close your credit cards
It might seem like closing old credit cards is a good idea, but in reality, this move could actually hurt your credit score. That’s because lenders take into account both the age of your credit and how much credit you have available. By closing an old account, you are reducing your total credit, resulting in you using more of your total outstanding credit on a regular basis. Concurrently, closing an older account that’s been around for a while means your average age of credit will be lowered, and that can hurt your credit score.
Don’t spend your tax refund check
It might be tempting, but don’t go spending that tax refund check haphazardly. Even if you receive a sizable refund from the government, it’s better to use that money toward reducing debt, paying off credit cards, or investing that money for the future. It might sound boring, but trust us, your future self will thank you.
Don’t get discouraged
At first, it might be discouraging to see your finances aren’t where you’d like them to be. But don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Instead, try to look on the bright side and acknowledge what you’ve been doing right. Maybe you have been able to put some money away toward savings, or maybe you have lowered your outstanding credit card bill. Use these positives to encourage you to keep moving forward on your financial journey.
Don’t delay – do it today
We know it might seem hard, but don’t put off your financial spring-cleaning until the last minute. Start organizing your financial life today. You might not realize it, but doing so could save you money, and help you grow your wealth more than you thought possible.