Spring Cleaning for your Finances
Combing through your finances and sorting through all your paper work probably won’t be as fun as setting up the patio furniture and finding your old high school yearbooks in the back of your closet but it will be just as rewarding. We often push our financial worries to the back of our minds and hope they’ll fix themselves, so this spring we challenge you to dust off your files and face your finances head on.
Here are the ten steps you should follow to spring clean your finances and get them back on track for the second half of the year.
Step 1: Get Prepared
Being unorganized and getting lost in a sea of papers and documents is probably the worst thing you can do to yourself at this point. You’ve made the decision to spring clean your finances so now it’s time to get prepared. Get a file folder or a box (depending on how many documents you have) that you can devote solely to your personal finances. Now organize everything into sub-categories, this step will be different for everyone but consider categories like, taxes, student loans, credit cards, banking and investments. Take it one step further and reorganize any electronic files you might have. Once you’ve got everything organized completing the next 9 steps will be a lot easier and less stressful.
Step 2: Do Your Taxes, Now
If we had to pick one word to describe the start of spring is would be taxes, ok maybe not but taxes are a serious thing and it’s around this time that people start to procrastinate. So we want you to stop procrastinating and do your taxes this week, at the very least start them this week and then finish them up this weekend. Once you’ve finished your taxes you can stop worrying about them and start enjoying the start of spring.
Step 3: Double Check Your Accounts
Do a quick double check of all your accounts, checking, savings and credit. Look for any issues or suspicious transactions, if you happen to find anything make sure you get in contact with your bank or credit card company and sort them out. This is also a great time to make sure you’re not paying too many banking fees.
Step 4: Review Your Investments
If you don’t have any investments then skip this step but if you do have investments now is the time to make sure they are actually working for you. Organize any and all paper work and make sure you know what’s going on with each of your investments. Consider either investing more or get rid of anything that’s not working for you anymore.
Step 5: Review or Start Your Retirement Plan
There’s probably nothing more productive for your personal finances than working on a retirement plan. If you already have a retirement fund then you should review it, make changes if necessary or verify that everything is in order. If you don’t have a retirement fund then consider starting one, getting one set up will make that much easier to contribute to it when you have some extra money.
Step 6: Revisit Your Insurance
Insurance is important so take some time to revisit all your policies. Make sure they cover all your current needs and fix any problems you might be having. Also make sure you’re not over paying, shop around for better rates and see if your current providers can offer you a discount.
Step 7: Browse Your Bills
No one likes to sort through their bills but if you want to get organized this spring then you need to do it. Divide all your bills into categories and double check that you didn’t miss paying any and also see if you have any expense that could be cut.
Step 8: Manage Your Debt
This is a big one, managing your debt is extremely important especially if you have a lot of it. Make a list of all the money you owe and decide what needs to be paid off right away. Set some goals and figure out how much you need to pay per month to get out of debt by a certain time. Challenge yourself to be debt free by the end of the year or if you have a lot of debt, two years.
Step 9: File All Your Documents
Now that most of your financial documents are in order make sure all your other documents are too. This means things like birth certificates, passports, marriage licence etc. These types of documents are just as important as your financial ones, store them together so you’ll know where everything is when and if you ever need them.
Step 10: Start that Budget
You’ve probably realized a few things, found some issues and set some goals now that you completed the first 9 steps. The final step is to create a budget, take all those goals, issues and discoveries and get working on them.
Now that you’ve completed all 10 steps your finances should be in order and you should feel refreshed. Starting out the warmer months with a financial clean-up will allow you to enjoy the weather and focus your attention on relaxing and enjoying your weekends. Make spring cleaning your finances a new tradition and you won’t spend another summer worrying about cheques, balances or bills.