Flowers are beginning to bloom. The sun is starting to peek out behind the gray winter clouds. And our thoughts are turning to spring, a time for new beginnings—and maybe dusting those cobwebs that have lingered in the corner of your bedroom for far too long.
But as you contemplate a spring cleaning of your house, it’s also a good time for a deep cleanse for your finances.
Organize those documents
If you’re still holding on to decades-old credit card bills, tax documents and bank statements, it’s time to find a shredder. Here’s when you can recycle those old documents
Once you’ve pared down your paperwork collection, it’s time to get it in one place. You can invest in a fancy filing system, but a three-ring binder where you can gather your documents will do.
Skip the clutter and go digital
Now that your financial documents are in order, you’ll want to keep them that way. To cut down on paperwork, consider opting for paperless billing. Banks, credit card companies, utility providers and other lenders typically offer the option. Instead of getting something in the mail, you can pull up your statements at any time online.
Just be sure that you still have a way to keep track of due dates when paper bills don’t arrive in your mailbox once a month. This bill calendar from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help you track what’s due and when.
Brush off your budget
Has this all-important document been gathering dust since you made it? Now is the time to pull it out, dust it off and determine if you’re on track. Are you spending too much or saving too little? Was there an unexpected expense that threw you off? Or, did you get a raise or tax return that means you can sock more away in your emergency fund?
Take a hard look to find out where you’ve been, so you can map out a solid strategy for the path forward. Don’t have a budget? Now is the perfect time to get started!
Pare down your debt
Holding onto debt isn’t good for your pocketbook—or your psyche. There’s no time like the present to determine how much you really owe and make a plan to clear the balance. If you’re not sure how you’ll ever be able to pay it all off, take action now. Contact your lender or credit card company to learn about any alternative payment options or call a credit counselor, such as those at CESI, to help you find a way out of debt.
Prep for big purchases
What major expenses do you have planned this year? Is a family vacation on the calendar? Do you need a new car for a more reliable ride to work? Or, are you still paying off credit card debt from holiday splurges and plan on the same level of giving this Christmas?
Whatever it is, determine how much money you will need to cover those purchases and make plans now to sock away extra money for them. You could even open a separate account to funnel that money into, so it’s out of sight and out of mind—until you need it to pay for that summer beach vacation or all those Christmas presents for the grandkids.
As they say, spring is a time for new beginnings—and not just outside, but in your home and with your finances. Make plans now to get both in order.
We’ve also prepared a fun Spring Cleaning for Your Finances Infographic to help you take on the little financial tasks you may have been avoiding.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY