Planning, Simplicity

Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

swiffer-cleaning

It’s March, which means that the weather is turning warmer in many parts of the country, and it’s time for some Spring Cleaning in preparation for summer. Like our homes, our finances tend to get bogged down with dirt and clutter, and it’s a good idea to clean house at least once a year.

What might a Financial Spring Cleaning routine look like? Here’s one example, based on what I do for my family with the addition of other tasks that might be relevant to you:

  1. Review your will and emergency documents for consistency with any new developments in the last year.
  2. Go through your receipt bin/drawer, and discard anything you no longer need. (Keep tax-related receipts as PDFs on your computer for easy retrieval).
  3. File away any paperwork that accumulated over the last year. Try to make as much of it paperless as possible.
  4. Adjust your W-4 using the IRS’s free calculator so you pay the right amount for the rest of the year.
  5. Review your current subscriptions and cancel the ones you no longer use.
  6. Review the recurring subscriptions you decided to keep for hidden fees and levels of service (i.e. do I need this premium service when standard service will do?).
  7. Calculate your current net worth and review the year’s progress.
  8. Clean out your wallet or purse–remove unused cards, receipts, memberships, and anything else you don’t use on a daily basis.
  9. Close accounts you no longer use.
  10. Make sure your home, car, life and health insurance cards and policies are up to date. Get new quotes if you suspect you could do better.
  11. As the temperature starts to change, adjust your programmable thermostat to maximize savings.
  12. Pull your credit score or credit report with a free service like Credit Karma or from one of the three major credit bureaus. Check for errors or surprises.
  13. Walk your home and list everything that needs repair, replacement, or upgrades. Assign costs and prioritize the list.
  14. Check the asset allocation of your investment accounts and re-balance them if necessary.
  15. Automate any recurring bills, payments or transfers that are not yet automatic.
  16. Check reward balances and decide if you’re going to use them.
  17. Inventory your safe deposit box contents, take items in and out as needed for safekeeping.
  18. Review how well tax season went this year. Set up systems that will improve and speed up the process in the future.
  19. Collect your gift cards and make a plan to use them before their value expires.
  20. Make a meaningful charitable contribution. Nothing welcomes in the renewing feeling of spring like helping someone else in need.

Getting your finances cleaned up and ready for the upcoming year is a great way to feel prepared and in control!

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3 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

  1. Karen Kenngott says:

    Love the analogy…”spring cleaning.” Creative as usual, Wojo, and so apropos. You really cover the bases, and then some. Very well done. You have a knack for succinctly and efficiently bringing things into focus without going into overtime and belaboring the point. For instance: “walking the home for repairs, replacements or upgrades; assigning costs; and prioritizing the list.” Very straight forward, logical, and to the point. However, I start feeling the overwhelm factor after the initial list is made. Not that there is so much to be done, but because I live alone, am a woman, and am the only one to make it all happen! I would have to add another facit to that process: find good help to hire for what I can’t do myself. That thought alone puts a sense of dread in my day! If only I could manage to keep it seemingly simple. It’s factoring in the time and expense of a contractor…and the inconvenience, in some instances…that makes you feel spent before you even begin. Or maybe it’s just me because I’ve done enough of that sort of “delegating” over the past few years??? At any rate, you keep it abbreviated by maintaining focus with your itemized list-making, and keeping the thought-process direct and unemotional. Thank you for helping me to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel…so long as I remain objective and on task. I will try to keep these thoughts in mind as I proceed this year…hopefully with less anxiety! Thank you!

    Karen

    P.S. I so enjoy your point of view on all your articles as I think you are very comprehensive, and a critical thinker. At the same time, you manage to infuse your pieces with warmth, and/or humor, and a palpable respect for your audience. I don’t always have the time to comment, but you should know that your endeavors have a beneficial effect, and that you are appreciated for the unique approach you take in sharing your insights.

  2. I never thought of associating Spring/tax time to reviewing subscriptions, home repairs/maintenance, rewards card balances and planning the use of gift cards. Makes sense though. I will be using it this month. Thanks for posting WOJO.

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