It’s that time of year.
“Your personal finance spring clean is a chance for a fresh start, so treat it like you are beginning from scratch,” said Beth Kobliner, author of "Get a Financial Life.”
So grab a calculator and roll up your sleeves: Here are six tips to spring clean your finances.
No. 1: Get Organized
Create a folder system to organize receipts, pay stubs and invoices. It may seem a bit tedious, but it’s the single best thing you can do to get your financial life on track, according to Lynnette Khalfani Cox, CEO and founder of www.askthemoneycoach.com.
“You get your time back by not having to constantly look for things ... and save money by avoiding late fees and have a better financial plan," said Khalfani Cox.
No. 2: Start a Spending Diary, Even for Just a Month
No one likes the word budget, but if yours is just in your head it’s hard to see where all of your money is actually going.
“Most people see a budget as depriving, something that reminds them of the things they can’t do,” said Khalfani Cox. “But in reality, it’s one of your best financial tools and when you see where your money is coming and going, it allows you to manage better and is actually empowering.”
Kobliner suggests getting a notebook and writing down all the money you spend—but no cutting corners—be sure to include that morning coffee and tip to the dry cleaner.
“Once you see exactly where your money’s going, you can find areas where you might cut back.”
No. 3: Re-Read the Fine Print
“Go through all your biggest expenses: rent, insurance, medical bills, credit card interest and even travel costs, and be sure you’re getting the best deal available to you,” said Kobliner.
If you are unhappy with a interest rate, she suggests calling the company and asking for a lower one.
"If you have a credit card balance of $10,000 and your company is charging you 24%, you might be able to get a better rate. Pick up the phone and ask. Try to speak with a supervisor if your request is denied.”
No. 4: Lock Down Low Interest Rates
Interest rates have no where to go but up, said Jean Chatzky, author of "Money 911."
“Lock down low rates now, we are already seeing upward movement in the mortgage market, which tend to move ahead of interest rate changes.”
Chatzky suggested looking at your debts and seeing if they can be refinanced before rates pop.
No. 5: Rebalance/Take Stock of Your Portfolio
“A lot of people, if they did nothing, have seen their portfolios and retirement accounts come back recently,” said Chatzky. "But that doesn’t mean you are invested in the right places for you.”
She suggests assessing your long-term goals and where you are in the path to achieving them.
No. 6: Plan for Summer and Fun
Make a list of vacations, celebrations and other money-spending events you expect this year.
“If you want to get your husband the iPad for Christmas, start saving, so you don’t land in debt at the end of year,” Khalfani Cox suggests.
While this list might seem daunting, take a deep breath and start slowly. You can do it.
“Don’t get overwhelmed with so many tasks that you feel defeated before you begin,” said Khalfani Cox. “Pace yourself, give yourself time, learn some new stuff and grow a little bit.”
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