Spring is finally upon us! While most people are thinking about spring cleaning their homes, it is equally as important to think about cleaning your finances. Yes, just like that one crinkled shirt hidden in the depths of your closet that you promise “you will wear one day” – your finances need some reevaluating, too! So, where do we even start? Here are a few tips and tricks to start spring cleaning your finances:
Review Your Monthly Budget
At this point in my blog series, the word “budget” has been used often but for good reason! Budgeting helps you to prioritize your wants/needs and to be intentional with your spending. For me, my main priority is to pay off my student loans so I’ve budgeted extra each month to put toward my payments.
Clear Out Your Unnecessary Subscriptions & Services
This step is great for identifying areas where you can save money by canceling things! To start, list every single subscription you pay for and ask yourself, “Have I used this subscription service multiple times this week (or month)”. Follow that up with: “Does this service make my life noticeably better?” Based on your responses, you should be able to determine what subscription services are useful to you and which can be canceled.
So, if you are like me and only got HBO Max just to watch, “And Just Like That” but haven’t used it since – then it’s time to close it out!
Set Financial Goals
Goals – we love to have them here on this blog! Sometimes, a goal can be the determining factor for me when shopping. Do I really need this shirt or do I want to put that $30.00 toward my monthly student loan payment?
When setting a goal, it’s important that you are clear and realistic. Maybe your goal is to pay off your student loans in 5 years or to purchase a new car.
To help keep you on track, set mid-term and short-term financial goals. For instance, my goal was to pay off my student loans by the end of 2022. So in 2019, I set a short-term goal that by 2020 I wanted to owe a certain amount. Then in 2021, I wanted to be at a lower set amount and so on and so forth. Each time I’ve hit my short-term goal – it’s been an exciting feeling!
Spring cleaning is the perfect chance to check in on the progress of previous goals and to think about new ones that you may have.
Automate Your Savings
Automating your savings can be a great way to stay on track with your financial goals! For instance, split your direct deposit to go into both your checking account and savings account. I do not touch my savings account because I use my checking to make purchases and pay bills. By having some of my deposit automatically go into my savings, I am less likely to use it! With less money going into my checking, there is less money to spend – funny how that works!
Go Through Paperwork
Wait, so there actually is some physical cleaning involved?! Yes! Now is the perfect time to declutter and finally move that stack of papers collecting dust in the corner of your kitchen. However, there are some things you do need to keep in mind when sifting through paperwork:
According to the IRS, the length of time you should keep your tax documents depends on how you file. As a general rule of thumb, tax records should be kept between 3-7 years. Have anything older than 7 years? Shred it!
Review what you have saved – is anything expired or irrelevant? If so, you no longer need it and can put it through the shredder!
Speaking of the shredding bin, all financial or personal documents that have identifying information should go through a shredder to avoid identity theft. (Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for our MVCU Shred-It Day in the summer)!
There are so many more ways to spring clean your finances, however, just like your home spring cleaning, you have to be able to put aside the time and put forth the effort for it to be effective. So let’s break out that financial dustpan and set aside some time to clean up our finances! In the end, you’ll be in far better financial shape than when you started!