Ah, spring! The flowers are blooming. The bees are buzzing. The weather is wonderful. And apparently, it’s the perfect time to clean things.
Why? Well, the history is actually quite interesting. (Yay Wikipedia!) But, I digress…
Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall; it’s important to take time once a year to review what’s going on with your money. Life is full of changes! Your goals, your budget, and your bank account aren’t set in stone. They should reflect your current situation and where you want to go in the future.
So, without further ado, here are eight tips to help you get your finances in order this spring!
1. Create an ICE Folder
That’s “in case of emergency.” Make a list of your financial accounts, insurance, and important passwords. Then, store them in a locked box or safe location. We’re not trying to be morbid. But, if something ever happened to you, your family (or a trusted friend) should know exactly where to go.
2. Review your Expenses and your Budget
Our spending habits change over time. Take a few weeks to track your spending. Go “old school” and save your receipts or thoroughly review your online or paper statements. Whip out a highlighter if necessary and categorize your spending. What was a need? What was a want? What was an impulse buy? This process is always very enlightening! After you’ve done your research, adjust your budget accordingly.
3. Make it Automatic
This applies to both saving money and paying your bills! Want to become a great saver? They key is making it easy. Sign up for services like direct deposit and auto transfer, and you’ll build a great nest egg in no time. If you have bills that are the same amount each month, set up a reoccurring payment within Bill Pay. You’ll save tons of time, trees and money. Seriously, who wants to deal with checks, envelopes, stamps, and late fees because of lost or delayed mail? If you’re a skeptic, just give it a test run. You’ll thank us later!
4. Go Paperless
You’ll check off two goals if you can achieve this one! You’ll declutter your home, and it will be SO much easier to find your financial documents. Sort through your pay stubs, statements, bills, etc. and scan what you need to keep. Tax returns and other documents that relate to your deductions should be stored for at least 6 years. After you’ve scanned everything, be sure to shred it. Identity thieves are tricky and not above digging through your trash to capture your personal information. If you’re looking for some good apps, Drop Box and Google Drive are great places to store these kinds of documents.
5. Create Your Own Financial Calendar
Let’s face it! Preparing your taxes isn’t exactly the world’s most entertaining activity, but it’s definitely necessary. Give yourself “financial assignments” for each month of the year and set reminders on a Google Calendar or your phone. We’ll post a follow up blog with more specific recommendations later! So, be on the look out.
6. Review your Credit Report
Did you know that you’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus per year? Yep, it’s the law! Take time to review each of your credit reports and make sure they are accurate. If you find any mistakes, both the credit bureau and the information provider are responsible for correcting any errors.
7. Pay off your Holiday Debt Once And For All
Do you have any debt lingering around from the holidays? Get rid of that stuff like a bad sweater! If it’s not feasible to pay it all off at once, put yourself on a stricter payment plan, so you’ll be in a better financial position the rest of the year.
8. Join a Credit Union
If you’re a bank customer, you’re probably losing money. Banks are for-profit and looking for ways they can make money off of you. They typically charge minimum balances, service fees, and sometimes they’ll even charge you for checking your balance or asking a question. At a credit union, you’ll get great service without all the unnecessary fees, and you’ll probably find lower loan rates too. We’re not-for-profit! When you open you a savings account, that’s your share in the CU. Our members literally own us.
How DuGood Can Help
Ready to get started on your financial spring cleaning? Doing chores is always more fun with a friend! Here are a few ways we can help:
- Take a FREE Money Smart class about budgeting and spending
- Sign up for Bill Pay or Auto Transfer by using Online Banking
- Talk to one of our Lending Experts about debt consolidation
- Become a DuGood member by opening a savings account
Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Here’s to happier, healthier finances this spring and all year long!