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Spring is here, the year is fresh, and your finances can be, too. With the right approach to financial spring cleaning, you can have a clean wallet, a clean credit score, and a fresh new plan for enjoyable monthly budgeting before the flower buds open on the trees. This is the perfect time to throw open the windows and take a thorough look at how you’ve handled your finances during the past year.
Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on spring cleaning your finances. Last time, we provided five tips that covered clearing your wallet and coin jar, checking your credit score, paying debts, and going paperless. Here are some other tips to complete your financial spring cleaning.
6) Track Your Finances Online
Instead of spending valuable time managing your finances by hand, consider managing your funds from the palm of your hand. With an online program like Money Management, you can monitor all your accounts from any financial institution, track paying off debt, and categorize your transactions to start spending smarter.
7) Take a Good Look at Your Monthly Budget
Many times, we fall into an automatic budget routine of going to work, paying bills, and buying groceries, and we don’t have to think about finances all the time. Unfortunately, this means you may to be missing opportunities to optimize the way your monthly budget benefits the family.
Complete a budget so you’ll get a good look at how much you make and spend each month. There may be improvements you can make by cutting out unnecessary expenses and eliminating impulse buying. Make purposeful financial decisions, and prioritize your spending; this can certainly include entertainment, which may help you curb some impulse spending throughout the month.
8) Automate Payments
Relying on your memory, opportunity, and circumstance to pay your bills may not be a good idea. There are many tools at your disposal to get your payments scheduled regularly so that the bills ‘pay themselves’. You simply need to ensure you have money in the account from which the bill(s) will be paid. If you’re worried about being over-charged by a robot, simply keep an eye on your bank statements.
9) Set Up a Goal-Based Savings Account
It can be difficult to save money because you get the itch to spend once money hits the checking account. This can keep you from saving for big-ticket items, like a down payment for a home, or paying off bigger lingering debts.
Look for an opportunity to open multiple free share accounts; these are sub-accounts that fall under, and function similar to, your regular savings account and the really fun part is that you can assign it a name. Open two or three and give each of them a purpose; one for the house down payment, one for the student loans, and one for vacations and special treats. Then every month put a small percentage of your income into each. The pile of money won’t seem so big and spendable separated out, and because it’s not hitting your regular checking account, you won’t miss it much.
10) Shred Old Unnecessary Paperwork
Finally, never leave old paperwork you don’t need lying around; not only is it a source of clutter and food for attic insects, it is also likely to contain information about you that could be used for identity theft, if a hacker happened to get their hands on it. Instead enjoy the fun of shredding a few piles of unnecessary paperwork and turning it into packing stuffing, recycle fodder, and temporary confetti. If you don’t have a shredder, a pair of scissors or a little paper barbecue can achieve the same effect.
For more sound financial advice from your friendly local credit union, contact us today!
Information appearing in this article is obtained from sources we believe are reliable. The information may not be a complete statement of all available data and is not guaranteed as such. Marine FCU is not responsible for the contents of this article and advises its membership to investigate claims before following the information provided.