5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances
While the season of Spring has many people thinking of ways to spruce up their homes, closets and simply declutter, we cannot forget to also spruce up our finances!
If your finances need a checkup, here are a few ways to ensure you give your money the Spring cleaning it deserves!
1) Give yourself a raise.
This is a great time to review your tax withholdings and determine whether you are withholding too much. In most cases, if you are receiving a large refund, it could be because you are paying too much in taxes throughout the year. Keep in mind, you don’t want to allow Uncle Sam to use your money interest free and just return it to you at tax time! The extra money saved could be used purposefully to reduce debt, save for retirement or fund a financial goal.
Not sure where to start? There is a great withholding calculator on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Use it so that you can know exactly how much to withhold to break even each year at tax time.
2) Make sure you are covered!
Don’t forget to review each insurance policy to get an understanding of what your insurance covers. Nothing is worse than finding out you do not have proper coverage at the time you need it the most! Take time to review health, life, home, auto, disability and other insurance policies and ask questions to determine whether adjustments are needed.
Not only should you review insurance coverage, but review your policies to ensure you have updated beneficiaries as well. There have been many horror stories of individuals failing to do so and leaving assets to those they no longer intended.
3) What’s your number?
Check your credit report and more importantly, know your credit score. Keep in mind, you are able to obtain a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
Review your report and determine whether there are any inaccuracies. If there are errors, take a moment and dispute them. This process not only ensures you have accurate information on your report, but it also can boost your credit score by removing items that are decreasing your score.
4) Cut, cut and cut again.
Review your budget and then review it again. Audit each expense and determine what expenses can be reduced or eliminated. Consider picking up the phone and contacting insurance companies, cell phone providers and other service providers to determine if they can help reduce your bills.
There is a great tool you can use to find expenses that can be reduced or eliminated, which I refer to as 21 ways to save. So take a day or two to commit to reducing your expenses. This can help you save more money and keep your budget in check.
5) Save more!
If you have had trouble saving in the past, or simply have not saved enough, you may want to do something about it. One great way to boost your savings is to save from the top. It doesn’t matter whether you are saving a few dollars or a few hundred dollars, you have to commit to saving something from each paycheck. This will help you reach your savings goals faster.
Also, get an understanding of the amount you need to save for a rainy day. Your rainy day fund should be enough to cover at least three to six months of necessities, such as a mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities and other non-discretionary expenses. Committing to saving consistently can ensure your finances are in check.
Kemberley Washington, CPA is a professor at Dillard University and the co-founder of the B.A.D.G.E. plan. She is also the author of “The Ten Commandments of Financial Healing.” For more on Kemberley and her work, visit www.kemberley.com.