Tips for Financial Spring Cleaning to Stay on Track This Year
As you’re thinking about getting a fresh start and doing a little bit of spring cleaning this year, don’t forget your other house - the financial one. Very few things cause more stress than a disorganized financial mess. It is important to schedule 1 hour a week to focus on your financial matters. Knowing where your finances are going will give you peace of mind. It also makes it easier to budget for other things. Here are some tips to make to make sure that happens.
TIP 1 - Invest in a scanner
Like all of us we have that junk drawer full of bills, receipts, coupons and other important paper documents. No matter how you try to organize your files, you always wind up with a paper mess.
Get rid of all that paper and invest in a scanner. Go through your paper documents and scan all of the important ones (shred the rest). A scanner like NeatDesk makes it a breeze to digitize all your paper receipts, bills and business cards. You should make it a habit to use that scanner every day. Scan any and all bills, payments, medical documents, and receipts. NeatDesk even has a feature where you can use your smartphone and take a picture of the item and it will automatically file it for you. Its always a good idea to back-up your documents in the cloud and by a physical storage drive. You can never be too safe when it comes to backing up crucial paperwork.
Tip 2 - Work to repair bad credit (or improve your already solid credit)
Nothing can throw your finances out of whack like poor credit. Missed credit card, student loan payments, forgotten utilities, can ruin your credit and make it harder to find true financial health. This spring, make an effort to repair your damaged credit, it’s easier then you think.
“Pay down the credit cards and loans with the highest interest rates first. If you can’t pay off your monthly credit card balance in full, at least resolve to pay more than the minimum while you work off the debt,” says the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Reduce the amount of plastic in your wallet. Pay off small balances and close infrequently-used credit cards. Set up automatic bill pay for your student loans, utilities, and cable bill. If you don’t already have an emergency savings fund set up, get one started. When life throws you a curveball, you don’t want to be forced to get into more debt to pay for essentials.
Tip 3 - Pare down recurring monthly fees
Take a good long look at your monthly expenses. Are you paying a few dollars here and there for services you don’t need/use infrequently? Are you really using that gym membership? Do you subscribe to multiple streaming video/music services? It’s spring and it’s time to make some choices.
“If you are paying a monthly fee for a gym or class and you haven't used it, cancel the membership. Those fees can be used for something else or to pay off a bill. Now is the time to explore cheaper alternatives, such as a community center class or a gym available at work or school,” notes the Investopedia
Costs of childcare is another area where you can make some cuts. If you’re paying a daycare center for whole weeks or months in advance, but your child isn’t attending every day, negotiate a different payment scheme. Maybe consider hiring a babysitter on an as-needed basis instead of throwing money into expensive programs.
Financial spring cleaning is one of the most important things you can take on. Money matters are daunting, and you may not want to tackle that giant pile of papers. But if you take just a few days to get organized and set up a plan for tackling credit, debt, and budgeting for the future, you’ll create a situation where you’re able to succeed financially, instead of always feeling like you’re behind the eight-ball.
Written by Guest Blogger: Gloria Martinez from WomenLed.org. Gloria started WomenLed.org to celebrate the advancements women have made and inspire women to become entrepreneurs and seek promotions in the workplace.