Spring isn’t only a time to deep-clean your home (though of course, that is important too — just how long has that leftover lasagna been in your fridge?) This time of year is also a great opportunity to take a look at your finances and find how you can spruce them up. If your budget’s been gathering dust all year, we have some ways for you to get them refurbished and back in good shape. Think of those New Year’s financial resolutions as practice, and now it’s really time to get down to business.
1. Organize your information
The first step toward clean finances is to get a handle on what you currently have. Gather together your financial information — accounts, important documentation, bills, etc, into an easy-to-find and easy-to-sort system. This way, you’ll be able to locate with ease that utility bill you need for proof-of-residency and know exactly where to find those donation slips when it comes to >doing your taxes.
2. Get rid of financial clutter
While gathering up your information, did you find you have an overflowing box in your closet with years worth of documents shoved inside? In that case, it’s time to downsize. According to Kate Ashford at Forbes, you may consider consolidating accounts and shredding unnecessary paper that’s piled up (the IRS recommends keeping tax returns and supporting documents for seven years, though some documents like marriage and birth certificates should be kept for life). Then, go paperless to prevent future buildup!
3. Check your credit report
Once you know what you have and where to find it, it’s time to figure out where you fall on the credit spectrum. Having a strong credit score can help you receive a loan, open a new credit card, and even get a new home or job. You’re entitled to receive one free credit report each year, which you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
4. Automate your payments
One of the easiest ways to stay on top of your finances is to set automatic payments for your bills. This way, you won’t have to keep track of what’s due when, and you won’t run the risk of forgetting a due date and missing your payment. And as a bonus, the more you pay your bills on time, the more that credit report you just checked will improve!
5. Set a budget
Finally, it’s time to set a budget. Look at what you spend versus what you earn each month and judge whether or not you can afford these expenses. Some of these expenses will be fixed costs like rent and debt payments, but we’re guessing there are a few non-essential items in your monthly spend — looking at you, nightly Seamless orderer. By cutting back (just a little) on non-essential spending you can boost your savings and get closer to reaching your financial goals. Take some time to figure out what you can and should spend and be sure to stick to it. Worried you may fall off the wagon? Click below to see popular tools people use to help with their budgets!