To most people, "spring cleaning" means cleaning your home. For those of us who are lucky enough to experience the beauty of all four seasons, winter can also feel a bit confining, so when spring finally arrives, we are more than ready to open the windows, breathe in the fresh air, and clean out the clutter and dust that has accumulated over the long, cold months.
Besides cleaning out your wardrobe and replacing your heavy winter garments those more suited for the milder weather, or replacing your bedding with thinner and more colorful blankets, we should also look upon this time as an opportunity to examine our financial clutter.
Our finances can sometimes get away from us. Within just the past few months, we've navigated expensive holidays like Christmas, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, and St. Patty's Day. That is a lot of spending in a relatively short period of time. Because of this, many of us find ourselves in a financial hole that we struggle to pay off for the rest of the year, but it doesn't have to be this way. With just a few tips to organize your financial clutter, you can stay on top of your spending and get your finances back on track.
Staying on top of your finances means that you should know and understand what income you have coming in, what expenses you have and areas of your budget where you can find savings. The only way to do that is to get personal with your finances and make a habit of checking on them often. While you should consistently look at your bank account to verify the credits and deductions, you should also take the time to get rid of the clutter every few months. You can get started this spring by taking your spring cleaning one step further, and get rid of any unnecessary spending or financial clutter in your budget.
If you are accustomed to keeping a financial ledger in a notebook or folder, that is fine if you want to have a hard copy on file, but there are better options. You can help to save a tree, as well as time and money, by using one of the many budget management software that are available at little or no cost to you. Not only can these programs and apps make your life easier by having your receipts and bank account information right at your fingertips, it will also get rid of the paper clutter that accumulates in your home.
When you take the time to do a thorough spring cleaning of your finances, you will inevitably find parts of your budget where you are wasting money. For instance, if you have a gym membership that you haven't used in a few months, maybe it's time to cancel it. If you do visit the gym frequently, you could be missing out on a wellness reimbursement from your insurance provider. Many insurance companies promote better health by offering a partial or full reimbursement for nutrition and exercise. Small savings add up to big money over time, so be proactive in finding new ways to tighten your belt and update your budget.
You can benefit from consolidating some bills. If you have a credit card that started with 0% interest introductory period but has since changed to a high interest rate, transfer the balance of that high interest credit card to a new one that is offering the same no interest period. There is always a way to move around your expenses to avoid the high interest charges, so why pay more in interest than principal when you don't have to?
If you are living from paycheck to paycheck and can't seem to get ahead, contact your utility companies to find out how you can lower your charges. There are Energy Assistance Programs that help lower income households reduce the expense of their utility costs. They will consider your income, household size, other household expenses and provide a lower rate that you can afford. This is a great way to make your monthly expenses more manageable.
Don't wait until you are in a financial crisis to review your finances. Dedicate the time needed to stay ahead of the game. If you find that you need a little extra cash to cover an expense before you are charged a late fee, then a quick cash advance may be just what you need to stay in the black.