Spring is a great time to clean your house, go through your closets and get rid of old items, but it’s also a good time to clean up your finances with financial spring cleaning. Organizing can help you get on track with your money and reduce finance-related stress. In just a few steps, you can get your finances in order and enjoy all the great spring activities and warm weather.
Assess Your Mess
Start by organizing your paperwork. You should hang on to tax records and other important documents for seven years digitally or as hard copies. There is no need to keep paper records forever. Make sure to put your important documents in a place you can easily find them. Creating a simple filing system is a good idea. Shred any unneeded statements, bills, expired credit cards or other records that contain identifying information or account numbers. If you’re unsure about whether to get rid of a document, just scan it and shred the paper version. Consider shedding some weight from your purse or wallet as well. Carry only what you need and leave documents like your Social Security card and passport at home until they are necessary.
Revise Your Money Plans
Step two in your financial spring cleaning is to reassess your budget. Now that we are a few months into 2017, you should check to see how you’re doing. Are you over budget? Under budget? Or have you hit your marks? If you aren’t on track for whatever reason, it’s time to re-evaluate and revise. Update your budget to reflect your current spending habits and needs. Take into account any life events that have occurred recently or may happen in the near future, like a job change, new house, or addition to the family. The past year may have made you eligible for other types of savings, too — for example, check out “Search for Senior Discounts Before 65.” Also, be sure to think about long-term savings goals.
Clean Up Your Accounts
Can you consolidate any accounts that you don’t use or rarely use? Have you considered rolling over old retirement accounts from previous employers? Along with simplifying your financial life, having your money under one roof allows for more effective management of your assets, greater control of your finances and improved tax efficiency. If you decide to consolidate, make sure you review all investment options. The potential benefits and opportunities to save money, such as lower fees under one provider, can make consolidation worthwhile, but take the time to do it wisely.
Straighten Out Your Spending
When it comes to finances, the real key is to spend less than you earn. Today spending is incredibly easy with one-click shopping online, automated payment systems and thousands of offers bombarding you through apps and internet sites. During your financial spring cleaning, make a conscious effort to control impulse shopping. Minimize temptation by avoiding places where you might buy something and eliminate triggers such as browsing favorite online shops or buying something to help make you feel better. A good way to reduce the urge to spend is to focus on doing things with friends and family instead of fixating on material possessions.