Spring cleaning should help you feel ready for the coming seasons. It provides a sense of accomplishment and sets you up for future success. In the same way, spring cleaning your finances can help eliminate roadblocks to reaching your financial goals by taking care of the things you’ve been meaning to do, resetting your budget, and physically cleaning up your paperwork.
1. Play Catch Up
If you have a pile of paperwork and mail you’ve meant to handle, now is a great time to tackle that chore. Create four piles: shred, investigate, file, and do.
Handle your “do” pile right away if possible. Anything that can’t be taken care of immediately can move to your “investigate” pile. You may need to make phone calls or send emails to resolve issues. Shred sensitive documents immediately or put them in a bag to take to offsite for proper disposal.
Catch up on any nagging things that are preventing you from moving forward with your financial goals, too. Now is a great time to check your credit for errors. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of each of your credit reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax at AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Clean Up Files
If you don’t have a filing system for important documents, now is a great time to create one. Start with a few file folders categorized by topic. For example, you may want to use labels such as home, car, medical, bills, etc. Be sure to duplicate the file labels on your computer to help keep important electronic documents organized.
If you have a filing system in place, take some time to look through the paperwork and get rid of anything that is no longer relevant, like service records for a car you no longer own.
3. Reset Your Budget
Many people avoid budgeting because they misunderstand its intent. Your budget doesn’t tell you what to do. Rather, it tells your money what to do. If you want your money to work for you, a budget can help provide it with instructions.
Now is a great time to set up a budget to help you reach your financial goals. Many free highly-rated budgeting apps connect directly to your bank account to help keep track of your spending.
Think about major expenses you may face throughout the next few months. If you don’t have a holiday savings account, it may be wise to work those annual expenses into your budget to help reduce financial stress at the end of the year.
4. Take Out the Trash
Small maintenance tasks seem less daunting when you aren’t facing a pile of paperwork. After you’ve caught up on your financial to-do list, shred your leftover papers. If you don’t have a shredder, contact your local bank or credit union to learn whether they offer free or low-cost shredding services.
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