With the onset of spring, you may be tempted to tackle those household chores you've long been putting off. While you're tidying up your home, you should also consider a thorough spring cleaning for your finances. Taking the time to review your financial situation can help you create realistic goals, track your overall progress and find new ways to save. Consider these tips for cleaning out the clutter and getting your financial house in order.
1. Get Organised
One of the easiest ways to get your personal finances on track is to simply get organised. For example, if you frequently pay bills late because you're not keeping track of due dates, you're probably throwing money away on late fees. Multiple late or missed payments can lead to a negative impact on your credit score, which can cause your creditors to increase your interest rates and cost you even more money. Creating a simple system for paying your bills each month can save you both time and money in the long run.
2. Trim the Fat
If you don't have a budget in place, now's the time to learn how to make one. A budget is simply an accounting of how much money you take in each month versus how much goes out for bills, necessities and other expenses. Once you have an idea of what you're spending each month, you can look for areas where you can cut back. For example, take a look at your mobile phone bill to see what extras you're paying for but aren't using. Better yet, track your spending for a couple of weeks to see what you're buying that you don't really need. Small changes, such as cutting out fast food lunches or your daily newspaper can add up to big savings.
3. Shop Around
If you're carrying credit card or mortgage debt, you may want to consider shopping around for a better rate. If you have high interest credit card debt, look for a balance transfer offer that will allow you to consolidate your debts and save on interest payments. If you have equity in your home, you may want to take advantage of the drop in interest rates to refinance into a lower rate. You can also look for better deals on insurance for your home or car. If you have a savings account, consider moving your money to a bank that offers a better return on your investment.
4. Reevaluate Your Goals
Setting goals is key to achieving the financial success you dream of. If you haven't reviewed your financial goals lately, take some to track your progress and reevaluate what it is you want to achieve. If you don't have any financial goals, now is the time to create some. For example, you may be dreaming of a luxury holiday or going back to school but your credit card debt is standing in the way. Devising a plan with time constraints and achievable milestones can help you get where you want to go that much faster.
5. Plan Ahead
If you're married and/or have young children, you need to ensure that you have a safety net in place in case something happens to you. Having adequate life insurance, health insurance and/or disability insurance coverage can ensure that their financial interests are protected if you're no longer able to provide. If you don't have a will or trust plan in place, you should consider drafting one to protect your beneficiaries.
These simple steps can help you take control of your money management and streamline your finances. Investing just a few hours in spring cleaning your financial house can result in big dividends the rest of the year.
Andy is the co-founder of the CreditCardCompare.com.au comparison tool, an independent website where Australians can get a better credit card deal. Check out their learning centre for useful guides on the best practices of managing your credit card.