Spring is a great time to give your finances a dusting off (and if they’re anything like your bookshelves and baseboards, it’s probably much needed). Spruce up your financial goals and find new ways to set yourself up for monetary success that will last well past those initial April showers.
Conduct a “self audit” and purge mindfully.
Put and keep all your important financial information (think: bank account names and numbers, retirement fund info, credit card numbers, passwords, and so on) together. In addition to having everything all in one place, you’ll also eliminate the same panicked tailspin you go into every time you need to find a routing number.
If you’re storing this information digitally, be sure to password protect it.
Do you have yellowed, scribbled-on legal pads older than your first car? It’s probably fine to chuck those. Same goes for old lease agreements and user manuals to long-broken appliances. Make sure to shred anything with personal information on it, like bank statements or old credit card bills.
Budget your debt away.
Use springtime as an opportunity to make the budget you keep avoiding. Start by putting your expenses into three buckets: necessities (like rent/mortgage and utilities), planned purchases (maybe you need to replace the water heater or the AC), and impulse purchases (like takeout when you just can’t bear the thought of eating another salad at your desk).
With a fresh perspective on where your money actually goes, consider using the money you’d normally use on impulse buys to pay down debt or to start a savings account.
Paying more than the minimum balance due each month on credit cards can help you pay off balances more quickly, plus, on-time payments help boost your credit score.
Do some (not literal) shopping around.
When’s the last time you checked the interest rates on your credit cards? The terms of your cable bill or insurance packages? Do some legwork and see if you can score a more competitive package that’ll lower your expenses.
If you’re not already, consider conducting all of your banking at the same institution. You may qualify for better interest rates and fun perks like free online banking and text alerts.
Look into your retirement options. Consider increasing your contribution to an existing account, especially if your employer will pony up and offer to match, or open an account that is best suited to your individual needs. Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), Roth IRAs, Payroll Deduction IRAs, 401(k)s and 403(b)s are all common offerings amongst employers.
Turn old duds into dollars.
What better time than spring to embrace an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality? Organize a community yard sale to give new homes to your tchotchkes and make a little cash while you’re at it.
Use websites like Poshmark and thredUP to sell clothing you’re no longer in love with. That includes the dress you just had to have at the time but have never worn and anything with the tags still on.
If a yard sale isn’t your jam, consider sites (or an app) like Decluttr that will pay you for old books, DVDs and electronics. It’s about a million times easier than dragging your sad, dead MacBook to a shallow grave at the Apple Store.
Clean out your wallet. It’s probably bursting with old receipts and half-filled punch cards. Plus, if you can scrounge up any gift cards, sites like Raise will sell them for you and kick a portion of the sale back to you.
Use the advice above for squeaky clean finances you can feel good about — even if you didn’t quite get to dusting those bookshelves and baseboards just yet.