Spring is a great time to start afresh, and spring cleaning your finances is a good idea once tax season has passed. Follow these steps to create a leaner, tighter budget and manage your money better from Spring 2016:
- Evaluate any loans or interest-bearing accounts and perform comparisons against loans from other lenders. Where possible, transfer credit card balances to zero interest or lower interest card providers and consider the benefits of refinancing your mortgage.
- Make plans to pay off debts, starting with the debts with a higher interest rate and working through to the debts with lower rates. Once you pay off one debt, you’ll be motivated to clear balances on more.
- Go through your household budget and check all your monthly expenses, ensuring that you have an accurate picture of your finances. If you find you are spending beyond your means, determine how you can adjust your expenses and cut back.
- Check your credit reports with the major credit bureaus. Remember, you are entitled to one free report each year. If errors are shown on credit reports they will impact your ability to obtain credit. If you notice an error, report it to the credit bureau as soon as possible to have it rectified.
- Review all insurances to ensure they are all up-to-date and inquire about any potential discounts you may be eligible for.
- Go through bank statements to check for any unusual activity or errors and make sure no fraudulent charges are going through your account. If you notice something unusual, follow up with your bank.
Finally, organize your financial papers systematically, so you can access information quickly and easily. Trash anything not needed for tax purposes to streamline your filing system and make next year’s financial spring cleaning easier. Get into the habit of spring cleaning your finances each year, that way you’ll be far more aware of spending habits and any potential money problems likely to occur.