Spring has sprung, and many choose to welcome this season by indulging in some good ol’ fashioned spring cleaning.
I’m sure your mind automatically is thinking about spring cleaning as it relates to your home—tidying up around the house, tending to your garden, organizing your garage, and making a pile of unused items and clothing to donate—but it doesn’t only apply to that. In fact, this change in season is the perfect opportunity for you to thoroughly “spring clean” your finances.
Step into spring and tidy up your finances with these great tips:
Refresh Your Budget
How’s your budget looking these days? Have you been spending more than what you earn? Do you need to factor in new expenses or cut back on any existing expenses? Is too much money allocated in certain categories in comparison to others? Budgeting is hard work. Budgets are not something you set up once just to forget about later. Budgets are essential tools that are designed to help you stay on top of your financial goals while you lay the foundation for your future. You may need to review your budget and spending habits over the last few months, or even the last year, to refine areas that may need extra attention in order to ensure that you continue sticking to your budget and practicing good financial habits.
Still need to create a budget? Now’s your chance to set one up to help you responsibly manage your finances and stay on track now and in the future.
Cut Down Your Expenses
Review your credit and debit card statements to see if there are any opportunities for you to trim down on expenses to save yourself some extra money. You may find that you can cut back on things like gym memberships, store memberships, dining out, morning coffee runs, streaming services, and subscriptions.
While you’re at it, be sure to contact your cable and internet providers, insurance agencies, and other service providers to see if there are any discounts available that would lower your bills.
Not only will this help you to have a better hold on your finances, but you’ll also be lining your pockets with extra money that can be put toward saving or paying down debt.
Clean up Your Accounts
If you’re anything like the average American, you’ve probably got more than one bank account, and that’s totally fine if you’re using them all. Take a look at all of the open accounts you have—individually and with your partner or kids—and see if there are any that you no longer have a need for and cut the cord. If you have an account that’s gone dormant (no account activity for a prolonged period of time), you may find that you’re being charged additional fees as a result.
Consolidating your accounts allows you to better manage your money and understand your overall financial picture.
Update Your W-4
Tax season is well-underway. You may already know your tax fate at this point—you either owe or got a refund. Though your W-4 can be updated at any time, tax season is the most opportune time to revisit your W-4 to adjust your tax withholdings to ensure they’re accurate all year long.
Keep Your Financial Records Organized
Keep all your financial records labeled, stored, and categorized together—either digitally or locked in a filing cabinet. Keeping your files neatly organized is key and will allow you to access them quickly in case the need ever arises. These records may include things like bank statements, credit reports, debit and credit card information, loan documents, insurance agreements, retirement accounts, wills, and other legal documents.
Shred Personal and Financial Documents
Speaking of keeping your financial records and documents organized, when is it safe to get rid of them? Is it safe? Most of your old financial records and other personal documents do indeed have a shelf life and can be shredded. The financial records you should always hold onto are mortgage documents and tax returns (with tax returns, however, some advisors say it should be safe to get rid of them after 3-7 years, but that’s your own personal preference).
The documents that can be shredded after one year include:
Bank and credit card statements
Medical bills (if you’re going through an insurance dispute, you should hold onto them until that’s been resolved)
The documents that can be shredded after one month (give or take) include:
The documents that can be shredded immediately include:
Be sure to keep GOLD’s free shred events in mind so you can get rid of your confidential documents safely and securely instead of opening yourself up to identity theft and fraud.
If you’re still receiving paper statements, consider choosing the Earth-friendly option by making the switch to electronic statements (eStatements) to reduce paper waste and clutter in your mailbox, kitchen countertops, and desk. With eStatements, you’ll be able to access your monthly statements, credit card statements, and other financial documents whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you, and you can download them right to your computer or cloud drive instantly.
Automate Your Bill Payments
Life is hectic and it’s easy for bills to slip through the cracks with the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. This spring, why not schedule automatic bill payments to come out on a recurring basis? That way, you’ll never have to worry about missing a bill again. Just set it and forget it, and your account will automatically withdraw your payments for you each month.
Grow Your Savings
Need to build up your savings account? Set up automatic transfers at the frequency that works best for you to build your savings without having to think twice about it. Many financial institutions, including GOLD, have options where you can set weekly, biweekly, and monthly transfers straight from your checking account into your savings account. You can choose the amount of money you’d like to automatically transfer, which makes it that much easier for you to remember to always pay yourself first and reach your financial goals.