It’s time to spring-clean your finances. Here’s how
Spring offers an opportunity to refresh and organize, and your finances are no exception. Here's how you can stage your own seasonal reset.
For many, spring means opening windows, rotating wardrobes, and cleaning out the garage. However, while you are cleaning up your home, now could also be the time to reset your finances. Reorganizing your financial goals and habits will give you a fresh perspective on your overall financial health.
Here are six ways to spring-clean your finances:
1. Refresh your budget
Your budget is the foundation of your financial health, so sprucing it up should be at the top of your spring cleaning list. Having a budget directs your money towards your necessary expenses first and then your wants and financial goals, from getting out of credit card debt and saving for retirement to buying your first home.
Review your budget, taking note of whether you are spending within your limits or overspending in specific areas. Look for areas you might be able to cut back, like canceling unused streaming subscriptions, spending less at the grocery store, or buying lunch.
2. Clean up your accounts
Do you have several financial accounts? Many people have checking, savings, and even brokerage accounts at different financial institutions. This can make it hard to keep track of your accounts. Consider consolidating some or all your accounts into one bank, brokerage, or credit union to give you a clearer understanding of your financial picture and overall wealth.
3. Get control of your debt
If you are carrying high levels of credit card debt, personal loans, or student loan debt, develop a plan for paying it off. With higher interest rates, continuing to carry that debt is costing you more money.
4. Check your credit
You are entitled to a free credit report once a year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and review yours for any errors that may be impacting your credit score. Contact the respective credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) to fix any errors you find. If there are no surprises and you just need to improve your credit, work on lowering your credit utilization and paying your bills on time every month to repair your payment history.
5. Confirm your W-4
Since you are already preparing to file your tax return, check your deductions on your W-4 tax form. Many people get a large tax refund every year, but actually, this should not be the case. By waiting for them to return your money to you, you’re giving the federal government a tax-free loan instead of using that money on your expenses throughout the year.
6. Make sure you have the right credit card
Know what kind of credit card user you are. If you pay your credit cards off each month, obtain a credit card with the best rewards or a cashback card. If you carry a balance from month to month, then find the lowest interest rate possible. Think about which credit card features you really need to find the best credit card for you.
Jennifer Streaks is Senior Personal Finance Reporter and Spokesperson at Business Insider and a financial contributor at The Grio. A nationally-recognized expert on money and affordable lifestyle living, Jennifer is an established financial columnist who has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, and more.
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