Spring Clean Your Finances

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Hey Taylor: I got my husband to commit to what I’m calling “financial spring cleaning.” We’re going to focus on getting our finances in better order leading up to the summer. Any tips for where we should start? - Danielle

Hey Danielle: I like that! Everyone should engage in a little financial spring cleaning. There are a lot of things you can do, but I’ll keep it to three main points right now.

1. Debt. Hard to take any other steps when you have credit cards or student loans tying you down. It might be hard to pay off all your debt in one season, but it only takes an afternoon to make a solid repayment plan that can have you making big strides and feeling optimistic about your progress. If you have the ability to get out of debt but you’re just dragging your feet, take this opportunity to set yourself free. If you have a lot of outstanding balances and feel overwhelmed, pick one loan and set a goal for when you can pay it off. And, if you have no debt, move on to the fun stuff!

2. Work on your travel budget. Whether it’s a summer vacation or a flight to see family at Christmas, nothing upends your finances more than paying for travel without having planned ahead. If you want to get things nice and tidy, you should check airfare prices and start setting money aside so you don’t get caught off guard. If you have the flexibility to put aside a good amount, you can start thinking about a bigger, grander vacation down the road. After all, the best part of budgeting is saving money for the finer things in life.

3. Cut back on silly spending. Got a gym membership you don’t use? Three credit cards with annual fees? A bunch of extravagant appliances that drive your electric bills up? There are a lot of expenses you can cut out of your life without becoming some sort of unhappy hermit. Look at your monthly and quarterly bills and figure out where you might be able to trim the fat a little. Cable bills and car insurance are a good place to start. Maybe look at your grocery spending and then see how much food is getting left to rot in the fridge. A really small change in behavior could save you hundreds of dollars each month.

I’m excited to hear about how this spring cleaning effort goes! I might steal your idea and recommend a little spring cleaning to some of my clients. Thanks for writing in!