I don’t know about you, but I develop a slight case of spring fever once it starts to warm up outside. Indeed, it’s time for spring cleaning. For me, this entails airing out the house, deep cleaning, and preparing my flower beds for planting. But did you know your home may not be the only thing in need of spring cleaning? There are many reasons why you may want to give your finances a spring cleaning too. Take a look at 9 ways you can organize, declutter and take a fresh approach to your finances.
1. Balance Your Checkbook
Do you ever balance your checkbook? If you don’t do this already, now is a good time to make it a habit. To that end, it’s a good idea to balance your checkbook monthly – or perhaps more frequently – to prevent errors that either you or your bank may have caused. In addition, staying current on your checkbook deposits and debits can save you from paying costly overdraft fees.
2. Eliminate Junk Mail
The junk mail you receive electronically and by snail mail may entice you to spend more. To eliminate the temptation to spend unnecessarily, you can cut down on unwanted junk mail by opting out of unsolicited mail, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
3. Use Cash or Debit
Using plastic has become a preferred method of payment for many people. Although credit cards are easy to use, they also make it easy to overspend. To help curb your spending, you can try paying with cash whenever possible. For example, I use an envelope system to buy groceries, household items, and cleaning products. I also keep tabs on how much I’m spending and this helps keep my budget in line. But, if you aren’t keen on carrying around bulky envelopes of cash, you can use your Chime Spending account’s debit card for your everyday spending. Using a debit card is always a better option than using credit to help you stay on-budget because the money will be taken out of your account right away. Plus, with Chime’s Automatic Savings program, your “spare change” from debit transactions will add up to more savings for you.
4. Organize Your Tax Information
Spring means tax time for most people, which makes it a great time to get your year-end finances organized. To start, gather what you need to file your taxes if you haven’t done so already. Next, clean out and box up last year’s documents. Then, if you haven’t already started files for your 2017 paperwork, get to it. You will save yourself time and frustration the sooner you get it done. You may even save yourself money by finding receipts that you can claim as tax deductions.
5. Use Tax Refunds Wisely
If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, consider using it to get pay down your debt. Why? Paying extra toward your debt can make a positive and lasting impact on your finances. If you don’t have a lot of debt, perhaps you can earmark that refund toward your savings account or invest the money. Either way, try to refrain from spending it right away. Waiting a few days or even weeks before making any new purchases can help you make a better decision on how to best use the money to improve your finances.
6. Start New Habits
Some people like to surf the web in the evening before they go to bed. Others shop during their lunch hour. If you are guilty of one of these habits, maybe now is the time to swap it for for a new healthy habit. Some options: Go for a walk during lunch or listen to relaxing music in the evening. Find things you enjoy and ways to eliminate the stress that doesn’t include spending money.
7. Get Creative
It’s not always easy to resist spending money. But this is a great time to access whether you really need to buy that “thing” at all. In fact, you may find that you can actually create something you love for little to no cash at all. For example, you can use scraps of fabric to make a new bedspread instead of buying one. Or, perhaps you can upgrade a lampshade with trim or bedazzle it with beads. Got scraps of wood in the garage? Maybe you can find new ways to use those wood pieces to make a nightstand or bench. You can even turn your creative streak into a group activity by involving your friends.
8. Negotiate Your Bills
While you’re organizing your finances, you may be surprised by how much you’re spending on some of your monthly bills, especially if they’ve crept up over time. But, did you know that it’s possible to reduce your monthly bills simply by making a phone call? To start, pick up your phone and call your cell phone company, cable company, and other service providers to ask for a price reduction. Some are willing to offer you a better deal rather than lose your business, especially if you’re a good customer. It never hurts to ask, right?
9. Check Insurance Coverage
When is the last time you updated your insurance coverage? Have you inventoried your home to ensure your valuables are covered? Spring is a good time to get out your insurance paperwork and look over your policies to make sure you are adequately covered. If you’re not sure about your current protection, contact your insurance agent. You may find out that you’re under or over insured. This, in turn, may mean you’re paying too much for insurance. Use this opportunity to make appropriate changes to your insurance policies so that you’re paying the right amount for coverages you need. If you don’t know where to start, check out PolicyGenius’s Insurance Checkup tool which can help you understand which types of insurance you may or may not need.
As you can see, these smart ways to spring clean your finances can help you save money well into the summer, fall and winter. Are you ready to clean up your financial act?