Spring signals the start of new life and is a time when many feel the need to give their house a thorough cleaning to prepare for what's to come in the new year. While there's something to be said for keeping a tidy home, ask yourself this:
Are you giving as much thought to your finances as you are your home?
Spring is already upon us! Ensure you're on the road to financial wellness by spring cleaning your finances with these five easy steps.
1. Wipe Off Old Budget Plans
Did you have good intentions with a budget you created at the start of 2020, but that fell to the wayside? Don't let all that hard budgeting work go to waste!
Dust off your budget and make some tweaks so that it reflects your current financial situation. A budget isn't just for those who are living paycheck to paycheck. Adhering to a spending and savings plan can help you no matter your unique financial situation and create a solid monetary foundation that you can build upon in years to come.
Carefully comb through your updated plan. What areas have excessive spending? How can you cut down on those costs? A budget helps you set money aside, maximize your monthly income, and plan for large purchases, so it's time to give it the attention it deserves!
2. Freshen Providers
Now that you have a refreshed budget plan to work with, it's time to do some comparison shopping. For every one service, there's an overwhelming amount of providers.
Take a look at all of your recurring bills. Car insurance, health coverage, gym membership, streaming services, mortgage; the list goes on! When was the last time you shopped around for updated quotes? While you may have gotten the best deal when you initially signed up for a service, that may not still be true today, especially if you've improved your financial health.
Even if you love your current provider, many bills can be negotiated down when a provider learns you're exploring your options, so it's time to sit down and make some calls. Updated quotes let you know if you're not getting the savings you deserve while giving you some serious negotiating power.
Since your mortgage installment is likely the heftiest recurring bill you have, it's imperative to ensure you are securing the lowest interest rate you qualify for. A low rate means massive savings over the life of the loan. Compare mortgage providers to see what rates you qualify for!
3. Unsully Public Records
Thanks to the online lives we lead, identity theft runs rampant. There are so many opportunities for a con artist to get their hands on your digital information, and if left unchecked, that can do some serious damage to your financial health.
The best defense is a good offense!
Too many people learn their sensitive data has been compromised only after serious damage has occurred. Even one unauthorized credit card opened in your name can destroy your hard-earned credit score. Unfortunately, the problems associated with identity theft often take months, sometimes years, to correct.
An easy way to protect yourself and see warning signs before they turn into problems is to stay on top of your public data. You can do that by regularly running a public record search on yourself. You'll see a variety of information that has been linked to you, including financial dealings, contact information, known associates, and address history. If any of that data is incorrect, you'll know it's time to do some more digging!
4. Sweep Out Debt
Once you have your budget, complete with cost-effective providers, you'll likely see some savings. One of the best ways you can put those funds to use is by tackling your debt, especially high-interest debt.
Being free of debt, or having manageable bills you can pay off every month, goes a long way in not just your financial health but your mental health. 2020 was a rough year for most of the population, and you may have had to rely heavily on credit cards to get you through. We all did what we had to do in order to take care of our family.
Now, it's time to organize repayment efforts and get back on track. Use your budget to help you organize your debt and create both a short- and long-term payment plan. While it may be tempting to spend any extra funds you have on something fun, remember, the good habits you establish now will benefit you in the future.
5. Organize Emergency Fund
Not many of us were able to contribute to an emergency fund in 2020, but the good news about establishing this fund is that it's always a good time to start!
Now that we've all experienced just how important it is to have funds to fall back on should an employment situation suddenly change for the worse, it's time to start contributing any extra funds you have to this dedicated account. While it may not be much to begin with, every little bit helps, especially if you contribute regularly.
Do you anticipate a tax refund? If you don't need that money for pressing bills, consider paying down your debts and putting any money that is left into your emergency fund.
Out With the Old, In With the New
It's time to Marie Kondo your finances. If the current state of your financial health doesn't bring you joy, change it up!
Now is the perfect time to spring clean your finances and start to bounce back from the past year. Let's focus on clearing out what no longer serves us, establishing good money-management habits, and work to ensure we can enjoy a successful financial future!