SPRING CLEANING FOR YOUR BUDGET: PLANTING THE SEED OF BETTER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Spring is seen as a time of change, an out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new awakening. Surely, you’ve heard of spring cleaning, a call to action when you’re supposed to look at your home with fresh eyes and renewed purpose.
But what if you applied the concept of spring cleaning to your finances? Maybe it’s time to look beyond polishing up your living space and instead focus on brightening the future through sound financial decisions.
Here are some suggestions for small changes that can take root and open up some financial possibilities.
Start An Emergency Fund
An emergency fund: it’s something you don’t usually think about until, well, there’s an emergency. The general guideline is that you should have at least three months’ expenses in savings on hand to cover unexpected happenings.
Whether you choose a savings account, checking account, or money market account, be sure to keep your emergency fund where it’s easily accessible.
Track Your Debts
Clear away the cobwebs when it comes to thinking about the amount of debt you have by creating a spreadsheet that puts everything in black and white (which might help you avoid seeing red when the bills come in). Getting a handle on debt starts with looking squarely at the numbers and not shying away from developing a realistic payment plan.
Increase Your Retirement Account Allotment
Bump up your IRA or 401(k) contributions even a little and you’ll feel a renewed sense of accomplishment. Although a small contribution increase may not seem to be worth it initially, compound interest can kick in and before you know it, just like in spring, you’ll see more green.
Improve Your Credit
Seeing that you have a good credit score is like a breath of fresh air when it comes to re-energizing your finances. Obtain a free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian; getting your credit score with the report might require a fee.
If the score is less than you hoped for, consider dusting off plans that you’ve been meaning to put into place for better financial management.
Sort Out Your Credit Cards
You hold all the cards when it comes to managing your credit. If the number of credit cards you have is growing, consider canceling a few that you don’t use frequently but that nonetheless tempt your willpower from time to time.
Apply some spring cleaning to your wallet by tossing a credit card or two and you could end up wiping away the temptation to add more debt.