Financially, Christmas always seems to set me back. Even after receiving a well deserved bonus, the expensive gifts and dinner parties add up. That’s then followed by New Years that requires a fancy outfit and a case of pricey champagne, along with my birthday where I of course have to celebrate out of the country. By the time the first quarter of the year had blown past, I was barely looking up in a financial haze wondering why my savings hadn’t inched the past three months. Now that it’s Spring, I’ve got a good a good grasp on what I should be spending and what I should be holding onto. I take this time to clean up my accounts and take a close look at where my money’s going so I can financially plan out the rest of my year. It’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep. Here are some ways you can Spring clean your finances –
Revisit your Expenses
Take a look at your monthly expenses and see what areas can be cut. Contact your cable and phone companies and see what new promotions they have going on that can be honored on your behalf. Did you only make it to two of the spin classes that you pay extra for 24 Hour Fitness? Downgrade your membership so you’re not throwing money away. We get so comfortable expecting our monthly expenses to come out of our accounts that we end up giving up money that we could be keeping. What can you cut back on or give up that will leave more money in your checking account?
Check your Interest Rates
Interest is known to keep people in debt three times as long as it would’ve taken them to pay it off, so it’s three times more important that you’re aware of your interest rate than it is to be aware of the price tag amount for anything you purchase. Now is the perfect time to review the interest rates on your credit cards, car loans, mortgage and student loans. If you’ve had your credit cards for a over a year and have a good rapport with your creditor, call and ask about attaining a lower interest rate. If I’ve received offers from other banks, I don’t hesitate to let them know that so-and-so is offering me 2% less for a higher line of credit. Also keep is mind, should they be unwilling to work with you, you always have the option of transferring your credit card balances over to a company who will give you a lower interest rate. Consider refinancing your car or mortgage payments if better offers become available.
Adjust Your Savings
Are you making more or less money than you did last year and how is that in comparison to your expenses? If your income has increased, so should the monthly amount of savings you’re putting up. I put up about 20% of my salary and suggest that you’d try between 15-18%. The reason why we still feel broke even when we make more money is because we spend more instead of adjusting our percentages to leverage our income.
Check your Credit
Not only is it important to know your credit score, but it’s also imperative that you monitor it to ensure all of the open lines of credit and inquiries belong to you. Dispute any discrepancies that you find immediately. Update any of your information that doesn’t reflect as accurate. Some banks will offer free weekly or monthly credit reports, but if not take advantage of the free credit check apps that are available.
Get Rid of Stuff
That’s right, spring cleaning can actually make you some money. All the stuff you’ve hoarded, collected, and never used over the past year can go. Try selling clothing items on Poshmark, LetGo or even stores like Buffalo Exchange. Something is better than nothing. Old electronics and gadgets can be sold on Ebay and if all else fails, yard sells still make money! For whatever you can’t seem to sell, donate to Goodwill or another non-profit organization for a tax deduction.