Spring Clean Your Finances

March 17, 2022 by Spectrum Credit Union

As the days get longer and we say goodbye to winter, a lot of us greet the new season with a natural penchant for some spring cleaning. Along with the usual tidying on the homefront, however, freshening up your finances can also be a valuable focus this time of year.

Bringing some order to the many parts of your financial life has benefits: You’re likely to free up some time and money, plus ensure that important protections are firmly in place and key goals are well-organized. Here are seven springtime spruce-ups to review.

Clean up security and privacy habits. Whether it’s phishing scams or data breaches, scammers are always looking for ways to exploit your personal data or entice you to part with your money. To prevent problems, do a security checkup. Protect your computer by keeping software up to date and using security software. Set your smartphone to do system updates automatically, enable two-factor authentication wherever you can and strengthen passwords on accounts.

Streamline the payment routine. Through automatic bill-pay and automatic transfers, many money tasks can be handled regularly without the need for writing checks or clicking through screens to submit online. Your paycheck, recurring bills, savings and retirement contributions are all financial chores that can be automated versus manually handled each month.

Shed the paperwork. If you get paper statements from your financial and other accounts, think about switching to paperless notifications instead. Not only does it unclutter your mailbox and desk, but it also may make it easier to track finances if they’re all accessible digitally.

Straighten up the budget. Have plans to weed out the garden? See if you can also weed out unnecessary expenses from the monthly budget. Take a look at recurring costs like apps, subscriptions or commuting passes that you no longer use. You might be able to toss out certain household fees, too, say maybe dry-cleaning.

Cast off debts. Could any extra money realized from expense-trimming be applied toward erasing debt? Whether it’s a credit-card balance or a loan, pruning what you owe gives you added financial flexibility for things like vacation planning or saving for children’s college.

Consolidate accounts. Have you changed jobs and ended up with multiple 401(k) plans or IRAs? Do you have a few open checking accounts from different financial institutions? Reducing the number of accounts you have can greatly simplify your money management and give you a clearer picture of what you have. What’s more, it may also reduce fees and duplicate investments.

Refresh your estate plan. Make sure you’re prepared for the future by reviewing the essentials of your estate plan. Are you confident that all the key elements are in place? Are beneficiary designations up to date? And do all your choices and instructions still accurately reflect your wishes? Reviewing key documents in light of any life changes ensures these protections will be in place if you need them.

New season, new habits

Want a fresh outlook? Just as doing a little spring cleaning can make your home shine, applying a little elbow grease to financial organization can also help simplify responsibilities and get priorities in order.

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