10 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances
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Spring is a great time to get reinvigorated after the colder winter months. Many people will be taking some time to declutter and clean their homes. Why not spring clean your finances, too?
1. Spring Clean Your House
It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate over the course of a year. Go through your whole house and start decluttering. If something isn’t useful or doesn’t “bring you joy”, get rid of it!
You can make three piles for outgoing stuff: sell, donate, and trash. You’d be surprised at what people will buy sometimes. You can sell your stuff online. Having a broad online audience gives you a much better chance of selling something. Marketplace sites like eBay and Mercari are great options for reaching a wide audience, if your items aren’t too heavy to ship.
You could also list your items on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Also, Amazon allows you to sell certain items like old books, games, and devices. If you have an old cell phone or certain other device to sell, you could sell it using Gazelle.
For items that you don’t want to sell, consider donating them to a charitable organization. Make sure you keep your donation receipts for charitable deductions at tax time.
2. Clean Up Your Paperwork
Today, it’s become much more common to keep important documents digitally. If you do still have physical financial paperwork laying around or filed away, comb through those to see if there’s anything you can get rid of. Mark out any sensitive information or use a shredder before discarding.
For digital paperwork, optimize your storage to be more organized and streamlined. Make sure you are backing up your files to an external drive or automated cloud backup service. The last thing you want to have happen is to lose your important digital documents.
3. Reassess Your Budget
Now is a good time to reassess your budget. Depending on when you last looked at your budget, your income may have changed and you may have added expenses. With inflation being so high recently, you also may have found yourself spending more on groceries and gas.
If you don’t already have a budget, then why not start one now? Creating and following a budget is a great way to make sure you spend less money than you earn. You’ll be able to work on reducing expenses and increasing your savings.
Making a budget is not complicated. When done right, it’s great way to take control of your finances and take steps to reach financial goals. Check out my 7 Steps to Create a Personal Budget blog post, where I outline the following steps:
- Step 1: Collect Your Financial Paperwork
- Step 2: Determine Your Monthly Income
- Step 3: Calculate Your Monthly Expenses
- Step 4: Set Your Financial Goals
- Step 5: Make Your Budget Plan
- Step 6: Adjust Your Spending Habits
- Step 7: Review Your Budget
There are lots of budgeting tools out there to help you. One of the most customizable digital budgeting tools available is PocketSmith. They have an app that can help you with planning and tracking your budget. Use my link if you’d like to save 50% off your first two months of their premium plan.
If you prefer a tried-and-true, non-digital method of tracking your budget, check out this best-selling budget planner that comes in so many different colors: Clever Fox Budget Planner.
4. Adjust Your Savings
Many people save money in this order when they get their paycheck: pay bills, buy groceries and essentials, buy discretionary items, and then save the rest.
To build a lasting habit that will help to boost your financial wealth, you should save money first, pay your bills, and then spend the rest. You don’t have to go all-in right away, either. If you aren’t saving much money right now, start with a small amount and build from there.
My money saving challenge would be a great way for you to start small. Once you reach that savings goal, don’t stop! Continue to build your savings.
If you don’t have an emergency fund saved up, I would also recommend reading my How to Save $1,000 in for an Emergency Fund in 90 Days blog post. Having an emergency fund can be invaluable when a big, unexpected expense pops up.
5. Set Financial Goals
Planning your goals will help to make saving money feel more intentional and purposeful. What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, and 15 years from now and so on? Make a list of short-term and long-term financial goals that you would like to achieve. Short-term goals could include things like reducing credit card debt, buying a new car, planning a vacation, or buying a new computer. Long-term goals, like saving for retirement or your child’s education, could take years to achieve.
Identifying goals will help you identify your priorities and things that are important to you. If you set intentional and achievable goals, it will inspire you to stay on track with a plan to improve your financial wealth.
6. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Spending money every month on things like dining out, new clothes, going to the movies, and pricey vacations can really add up. Spending household dollars on too much “fun” instead of saving can wreak havoc on your finances. Evaluate your spending to see if there are areas that can be trimmed.
Make a list of every subscription or recurring expense that you pay for. After you do that, ask yourself if there are any of those that you aren’t using or could do without. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on things you don’t really need or use, consider funneling those dollars into a savings account instead.
7. Review Your Credit Scores
It’s important to keep an eye on your credit scores, especially if you are going to be needing a loan in the near future. Things like credit fraud, errors, and collection accounts you weren’t aware of can really hurt your credit profile.
Some credit card companies report a credit score from one of the three bureaus to you each month, if you have an active account with them. If your cards don’t have this feature or if you want to monitor your score more frequently, you could sign up for a paid credit monitoring service, like Credit Karma.
If your credit scores are not as high as you’d like, there are ways to bring them up. There isn’t one single magic thing that will improve your scores, but by being strategic and implementing some of the tips listed in my 13 Ways to Improve Credit Scores Fast blog post, your scores are sure to improve.
While you’re working on improving your credit scores, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit profile. If you want to take the free route to do this, every consumer is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus each year from AnnualCreditReport.com. You could stagger getting a report from each of the three bureaus so that you review one every 4 months. While using this site is a great free way to track your credit profile, it doesn’t show you any actual credit scores.
8. Adjust Your Retirement Contributions
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raised the amount that you can contribute to your employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement account from $19,500 in 2021 to $20,500 in 2022. If you haven’t adjusted your withholding percentage yet, I highly recommend making an increase, if you are able to do so.
Retirement might seem like a lifetime away if you’re still in your 20s or 30s, but the sooner you start saving more for retirement, the better. Your investments and interest will compound over time to grow larger faster. To learn more about this, read my How Does Compounding Affect My Investments? blog post.
9. Review Your Investments
Review your investment accounts to make sure you’re on track to meeting your goals. As you get older, you will probably want to adjust your investment allocations to less and less risky ones. That way, if the market tanks when your near retirement age, you are less likely to lose as much of your nest egg
Aside from 401(k) accounts, some other options for investing include Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), taxable brokerage accounts, and education investment accounts. If you would like to learn more about IRAs, read one of my related blog posts: Why Should I Invest in an IRA? and Which IRA is Right for Me – Traditional or Roth?
If you haven’t started investing yet, it can sound more intimidating than it actually is. If you’re not sure where to begin, you might consider reaching out to a financial advisor for guidance. They can help customize an investment plan for you, based on your financial situation and goals.
10. Review Life Insurance Policies
Your life insurance needs change as you get older. If you have a spouse and children, your insurance needs will likely be higher than someone who doesn’t.
There are also different kinds of insurance policies available, like term and whole life. Term life plans are generally more affordable that whole life because term life plans are for a set term and they don’t have any cash value until you die.
Talking with an insurance advisor would be a good option to help you evaluate your current life insurance needs.
While it will take a little bit of time and planning to spring clean your finances, making it part of a regular routine will help set you up for financial success down the road. Are there any other financial spring cleaning tips that you do that aren’t on this list?
Check out some of my other posts on saving, making, and investing money:
- 6 Steps to Financial Planning for Beginners
- 13 Ways to Improve Credit Scores Fast
- Stop Spending and Start Saving $1,000 With a 90 Day Saving Money Challenge
- How to Save $1,000 for an Emergency Fund in 90 Days or Less
- 7 Steps to Create a Personal Budget
- Financial Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Year End
- 7 Habits of Successful People Who Are Never Broke
- 17 Ways to Save Money This Fall
- 5 Websites to Make Money With Print on Demand
- Why Should I Invest in an IRA?
- 5 Money Habits to Boost Your Financial Wealth
Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational purposes and is not tailored for the needs of any specific investor. It is important to conduct your own analysis and research before making any investment. It is recommended to independently research and verify or seek financial advice from a professional in connection with any information on this website before using it to make an investment decision or otherwise.