A 5-Minute Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Finances
You ordered cleaning supplies on Amazon, gave all your well-used rooms a deep clean, and even tackled all of those surprisingly disgusting problem areas in your home. Heck, you've even managed to find time to reorganize your pantry! It's pretty safe to say that you've become a spring-cleaning ninja. So now that your home is practically sparkling, it's time to turn your attention to another area of your life that could use a good spring cleaning: your finances. We caught up with consumer finance expert and Marcus by Goldman Sachs ambassador Andrea Woroch to get her top seven tips to spring clean your finances.
1. Tidy and consolidate your accounts. The first thing you should do when whipping your finances into shape is streamline all your online statements and bill payments, says Woroch, including shredding all those old checks and statements you've been hoarding for no reason. "If you have accounts at multiple institutions, consider consolidating these, especially if you have cash left over in an account you no longer use," Woroch advises. Don't be afraid to check the App Store for a helpful hand — Woroch notes that there are tons of financial managements apps that can link all your accounts in one place to make tracking a breeze.
2. Polish your budget. We know it may be intimidating going through all your expenses (we already know we're blowing all our dollars on takeout), but spring is a great time to revisit your budget. "Budgets need to be re-evaluated every year to accommodate changes in goals and life circumstances," notes Woroch. "Establish a spending and savings strategy that meets you and your family's future goals. Track your weekly purchases and monthly bills for a few months; this will give you a baseline, so you can make suitable adjustments and find ways to cut back." If you're not sure how to start creating a budget, check out our handy guide for how to spend your paycheck and make a budget that works for you!
3. Find new ways to clean up your debt. If you're struggling with debt, take a few moments this spring to strategize your plan to pay it off. "If you're carrying credit card debt across multiple accounts, not only is this difficult to manage, but you're actually spending money on additional interest," says Woroch. "Instead, look for ways to streamline your payments and consolidate your debts into a single low-interest personal loan that is due at the same time every month. According to a recent survey from Marcus by Goldman Sachs, 77 percent of creditworthy Americans with credit card debt are unaware they can use a personal loan to pay down debt. Marcus is an online lender that offers fixed-rate, no fee personal loans to consumers with good credit." Make sure to consider all your options when choosing a plan to efficiently pay back your loans, and don't be afraid to talk to an advisor for more personal advice on how to manage your own debt.
4. Cash in on the clutter you find while spring cleaning your pad. “As you begin decluttering this season, look at items that you can sell to help boost your budget or put toward debt to pay down balances faster," says Woroch. “For example, you can post unwanted items such as furniture, toys, and sporting equipment for sale on Facebook Marketplace or sell old women's and children's clothes at ThredUp." Since you're already decluttering during spring cleaning anyway, this is a great opportunity to pad your pockets and save for the future, pay back your loans, or treat yourself to something special.
5. Fix financial leaks and delete unused subscriptions. “Financial leaks in your budget are any recurring expenses or unnecessary fees that you're wasting money on. For example, if you're paying for premium movie channels plus video-streaming services, chances are you aren't taking full advantage of both of them, so a good idea is to cut one of these extra expenses," notes Woroch. “You should also take time to review your monthly bank and credit card statement for other recurring expenses and determine whether these memberships or subscriptions are really necessary, such as that gym membership you rarely use or that monthly beauty box delivery. Remember, you can always re-subscribe later if you find you truly miss it."
6. Refresh your insurance policies. Can you even remember the last time you reviewed your current homeowner and auto insurance plans? “A simple search online can help you find better prices or promos to help you potentially save hundreds of dollars a year. Check out TheZebra.com for help comparing auto insurance policies. Otherwise, look for ways to lower your monthly payment, such as raising the deductible on your car insurance plan," advises Woroch. “If you have cash to cover emergencies and are a very safe driver, this is a smart move."
7. Take a moment to review your savings and retirement accounts. The last thing you should do before finishing your financial spring cleaning for the year is to review your retirement accounts and make sure your investments are still on target to meet your goals. “Consider maxing out contributions or taking full advantage of any employer-matching programs available to you. For anyone who does not have a retirement savings account through work or wants to contribute even more, open an individual IRA or a Roth IRA," says Woroch. “Parents should also consider opening a 529 college savings account for their children if they haven't done so already."
Are you giving your finances a spring cleaning? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.
This post has been updated.
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