The weather is finally breaking here in Michigan and with that comes everyone’s (least) favorite activity, spring cleaning. Typically we think of spring cleaning pertaining to our living spaces, but it’s important to tidy up your finances as well. So, before summer taxes and the holidays creep up too quickly, I’ve decided to sit down and plan out my Financial Spring Cleaning regiment.
1. Wait… where am I?
Similar to many, I made some financial resolutions this January since I was going to have a lot of new financial responsibilities piling on; I started out this year taking on both a car lease and student loan for the first time. Adding those to my usual mix of bills has been an interesting balancing act, but seeing just how well I’ve done with my budget will be key in cleaning up my finances. This will include looking at my checking and savings accounts, my credit cards and their interest rates, any other lines of credit such as my student loans and HELOC, and even my credit report and score.
2. Create goals and a plan of action
I realized I wasn’t fully on track with my goals and wanted to start saving a little better for some things that are important to me. Updating my home, paying off credit card debt, building up my emergency fund, and starting a “Fun Fund” are all things I set out to work towards for 2016. While I’m still technically on track, a few things need to happen for me to reach my goals: clean house, create a new and automated budget, save smarter, and better allocate time to focus on my finances.
Doing some literal spring cleaning will give me the room to renovate and design my house the exact way I’d like. Part of this includes cleaning out my closet. Pushing myself to purge items I’ll never wear (some of which still have the tags on them) is made much easier by using ThredUp, an online, second-hand retailer that offers a Clean Out Kit for users to package up their unwanted items. Any cash from my items will go directly into my savings account.
Setting up automatic payments and calendar notifications is next on my to-do list; having reminders outside of my already cluttered email inbox for when my automatic payments will go out will be helpful little pegs for me to monitor my checking account more carefully before transactions occur. I’m also planning on setting up an automatic payment from my checking into my savings account of a small increment every week to build on my funds.
Saving smarter is really important to me. I don’t have a lot of excess funds for me to work with in terms of investing and saving, so any extra pennies can help. To help get me to my goals, I’m going to try and use two new apps: Digit for general savings and Quapital for specific financial goals.
All of this takes time, which may be one of the hardest things to budget. Working and going to school makes for a hectic lifestyle, but keeping on top of my finances is really important to me. On top of setting notifications for my transactions, I’m going to budget time two weeks for me to diagnose my finances… and maybe treat myself if I’m right on track.
Spring cleaning isn’t the most exciting time of the year, but it can lead to huge rewards if you take time to focus on your personal goals, cut down on impulse spending, keep on top of your credit, and start finding easy ways to save money. If you take the time, you could see your savings really blossom come winter!