Spring Cleaning Your Life: 4 Things to Focus On
When it comes to matters of money, it’s easy to let your financial issues collect dust. You’re likely skip out on cleaning what you can’t see. Are you apt to toss bills you can’t pay in a junk drawer so that they pile up over time? Do you have a bad credit score that clings to you like the scummy build up on your bathtub?
It’s time to take control of your financial life. Spring is on its way, and along with it comes the opportunity to air out your stale savings account—among other money matters. Stop sweeping your finances under the rug. Read on for four ways to start spring cleaning your life.
Check Your Debt
Take an abrasive approach to your debt. That’s right, scour the old credit score by reassessing those past-due balances. It can be easy to let debt build over time when you feel like there’s nothing you can do to fix it; but remember, like your bathtub and the rings built up inside it, bad debt gets dirtier (re: harder to clean up) the longer you let it sit.
How can you start? Talk to your financial institution or creditors to see what options exist. You may be surprised. Consider what one woman did, according to Forbes, to get a start on paying down her $100k total debt: “I was determined to pay the debt down. I took out a $10,000 personal loan through Bank of America with a locked in interest rate of 0.9%. I consolidated my high-interest credit cards into that loan and paid it off in three years.”
The momentum from that exercise carried through into the rest of plans.
Reassess Your Savings
In the same way you let valuable antiques collect dust in your attic, your savings depreciates if it stays in the same account. Maybe you’re not storing your money as well as you could. Or perhaps your savings are all over the place; like the financial equivalent to hoarding, you save inconsequential bits in random intervals that really add up to nothing over time.
If you truly do have a large sum of money saved, reassess how you’ve saved it. It’s time to invest it or tie it up in a CD that adds greater value over time. Conversely, if you’ve failed to save a significant sum over the years, make a better plan. There are tons of apps for that. Consider using an automatic savings option so you’ll barely notice your new habit.
Evaluate Your Salary
It’s impossible to start saving substantially if your salary is insignificant. Likewise, it’s difficult to clean up your debt if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. If you want to make better money decisions, then it’s time to evaluate your salary. Talk to your boss today.
Afraid to bring up the topic? Don’t know where to start? The Wall Street Journal suggests starting with the following: “documenting your accomplishments, understanding your boss’s expectations and researching your employer’s financial health.”
Budget for Fun
Setting aside money for some online fun or any travel destination might seem silly when you’ve already spent so much time mopping up your financial mess. However, the key to future fiscal success is budgeting for entertainment. If you’re too frugal, eventually you’ll financially rebel.
Investopedia recommends considering all those entertainment expenses, big and small. The website notes, “[…] entertainment expenses should include eating out and small impulse buys like magazines and snacks. Otherwise you'll always find yourself with expenses that don't have a home in your budget, and this could discourage you from sticking with the process. Over time you'll find that your budget more closely reflects your spending patterns, so long as you are honest with yourself about where the money goes.”
Well, that was a huge mess. It’s best to avoid financial cleaning sprees and focus on your finances year round. Maybe it’s time to hire a money maid, like an accountant or a broker who can help you tidy up at the first sign of dust on your dollars.
How will you take control of your financial life? Share your thoughts in the comments below.