When springtime arrives, there is a shift in the air that makes people eager to spruce up their surroundings. With warmer temperatures, many open their windows and begin swapping out the old winter air in their home for a new spring breeze. Weekends are spent deep cleaning and refreshing one’s home in order to welcome the new season. Whether you eagerly await spring cleaning, or you tolerate it as a necessary evil, we want to encourage you to add one more area to your list – your finances!
That’s right – many people don’t think of their financials as an area that needs “cleaning” but with the following tips, you’ll be glad you spent some time and elbow grease to set yourself up for financial success all year long.
Refresh your budget
Whether you are a seasoned budget pro, or you’ve never used one before, now is a good time to take a look at the one you have or create one for the first time. Take a look at what you make and what you spend, save and give. Try using a budgeting app, or worksheet to track and review your monthly money management. After a month of tracking, make adjustments where necessary.
Set up bill-pay
Make a plan to pay off debt
If you are in pursuit of a debt free life, take a look at your budget to see where you can adjust your money flow to go towards debt repayment. There are several strategies you can use. Some prefer to put money toward the smallest debt first regardless of interest rate and some prefer to focus on the debt with the highest interest rate no matter how high it is. Either way, make sure to continue to pay all the minimum payments on all of your outstanding debt, and put any extra cash into the debt you’re trying to pay off.
Review insurance policies
It’s a good practice to review your insurance policies to see if you need more or less coverage as your life and goals change. Contact your insurance providers and ask if it’s possible to get a lower rate on auto, life, or home insurance. Ask if there are any ways to lower your bill. Sometimes paying the whole sum upfront, or contributing to a certain charity will get them to knock off a percentage off your fee.
Sign up for eStatements (and shred old financial documents)
If you don’t already use eStatements, now is a great time to start! eStatements help you stay organized while protecting your privacy. You can access your statements in Online Banking any time. Clear clutter this spring by shredding your old financial documents. Plus, in the future you’ll use less paper!
Check your credit report
Pull your credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review the report to see if there is any suspicious activity. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, report it to the credit bureaus right away.
Pick a smart destination for your tax refund
Taxes are due in the spring and many people enjoy the benefit of receiving a refund. Rather than look at the extra cash as a bonus to spend right away, consider where it could have the most impact. For example, use it to pay off debt, or toward building an emergency fund.
High-rate savings accounts
Utilizing a high-rate savings account can help you earn more in interest on your cash, while still making sure it is accessible when you need it. At Guaranty Bank, we offer money market accounts, and the Guaranty Prime Account to help you earn a higher interest rate on your cash.
Evaluate your big savings goals
You may be saving money for a big goal, like retirement, a down payment on a house, or a college education. If you have already started saving for these goals, take a peek at them to see how you’re doing. Are you on track to meet your goals? Is there anything you could do to save more to reach your goal faster?
Review your will
Last but not least, now may be a good time (or as good as any) to take a look at your will. It’s never a fun thing to do, but it’s important to figure out how your assets will be allocated when you pass on. Evaluate anything that may have changed and make adjustments accordingly. If you don’t already have a will, now may be a good time to set one up.
Spring cleaning is a chore, but it always makes you feel better after it’s done. We hope a financial deep clean will help put you on the path to financial success for the rest of the year.