Spring is in the air and it’s likely that you have already developed the cleaning bug. While you are working at de-cluttering and deep cleaning your home, now is the perfect time to clean up your finances.
Re Evaluate Your Budget
When is the last time you gave your budget a once over? Budgets are not set in stone. They change just as your income and priorities do. If it has been awhile since you last updated your budget, now is the perfect time!
Go through all of the past years bank and credit card statements. Match your expenses to their appropriate categories and see if you still have a realistic budget in place. Are there any places that you could cut back? Maybe you need to increase some areas of your budget? Should you be contributing more to your savings or retirement accounts? Evaluate your spending and make the necessary changes.
Organize the Paperwork
If you don’t already, you need to have a filing system for your paperwork, the simpler the better. Try making a file folder for each month of the year. All utility, phone, and cable bills go into the appropriate files according to the month they were paid in.
Once twelve months have passed and you come to a full folder from the previous year, you can simply sort through those documents and shred what you no longer need. Any documents that need to be kept longer can go into more permanent files. This is an extremely simple way to keep paperwork under control.
If you prefer to keep copies of your paid bills longer you can make individual folders for each company or one yearly folder for all to stash away.
Make additional folders for documents that need kept longer such as bank statements, investment account statements, receipts, paycheck stubs, and tax returns.
Now that your financial documents are in working order and you have a clear understanding of where you stand budget wise, check for any bills that could potentially be lowered. Look at your phone, internet, and cable bills. Have any of these gone up in the past year? You can normally call your provider and have these lowered without compromising any of your current services.
While you are busy weeding unnecessary items out of your household, don’t forget to do the same for your finances! Updating your budget, organizing your filing system, and cutting back certain expenses will bring you a sense of relief. You documents will be easy to find and you can feel confident that you know exactly where your money is going.
Alexa is a newly single mother of two girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mother trying to make it big at Single Moms Income.
FatWallet Asks More Experts:
Jim Wang from Bargaineering recently wrote a guest post on CreditKarma covering this same topic. He suggests, “Now is also a good time to review your credit. Get a free credit report from the credit bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com and check for mistakes. Fix errors and make it a point to note which areas could use some improvement.”
We also asked a Google+ Personal Finance community we are a part of for their feedback. Their suggestions are below, click the link above for their full replies:
- Re-evaluate your insurance for home, disability, life, auto etc. to make sure you have enough coverage and are taking advantage of any possible savings on your premiums
- Review subscribed services such as Cable and Internet to find cheaper alternatives
- Make sure you’re on track with your investment goals and adjust if necessary
- Review your budget vs. your spending over the last year and pinpoint areas to cut back
- Scan paperwork you need to save and pitch (shred) what you don’t need
- Track your spending with a program like Mint.com,
Microsoft Money(4/15/13 Update to post: strikethrough Microsoft Money. See comments), Quicken, etc. to get a visual of your spending habits and see what areas can be reduced
- Calculate your Net Worth
- Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors once a year. (It’s cheap insurance!)
Additional Financial Resources