How To Spring Clean Your Financial House
When was the last time you spring cleaned your house? Many of us do some form of spring cleaning in our homes regularly.1 But what about our financial "homes"? It can be easy to forget about the clutter and red tape that builds up in our finances. When we do, we can end up with some serious clutter. And that can have very real consequences. In fact, it won't just take up space. Clutter can also waste our energy, time, and even money.2 So, how can we deal with the financial clutter so it doesn't get in our way? Let's find out by checking out some simple and painless financial spring cleaning tips.
#1 Purge the paper
Go paperless for recurring bills and monthly financial statements. Also, go through the financial documents you have on hand and shred the old paperwork you don't need any more. If there are papers you need to keep, make a digital version by scanning them. Not sure what you need to keep? Consult with your financial professional to make the decision.
Pro Tip: Got a lot of paper? Let technology help you out! Apps can help you digitize and organize your paper records. Also, visit optoutprescreen.com to stop getting irritating mail solicitations, like credit card applications and loan preapprovals.
#2 Audit your subscriptions
Review ALL of your subscriptions and cancel any you no longer use or need. That includes subscriptions for streaming services, software, magazines and newspapers, gaming, and even product deliveries.
Pro Tip: Use your credit card and bank statements to figure out all of your subscriptions, so you don't overlook any. Also, consider signing up for subscriptions using the same card, so it's easier to audit them in the future.
#3 Consolidate accounts
How many bank accounts, retirement accounts, and brokerage accounts do you have? Are they at different financial institutions? This type of account sprawl can get complicated fast. It can also mean paying lots of maintenance fees. Take a careful look at your accounts and try to consolidate them. Look at both reducing the number of accounts you have and consolidating your accounts at fewer institutions.
Pro Tip: Check out account fees and requirements as you decide which ones to keep versus shut down. And don't forget to look at transfer fees too, especially if you're moving money around to streamline your accounts. Consider asking a financial professional for advice to avoid unnecessary fees or inconvenient restrictions.
#4 Automate savings
Set up regular transfers to a designated savings account. Choose a comfortable amount you can stick with. If you don't know how much to set aside, start with a number you know you can commit to. And if you're already doing this, check your automatic transfers and consider whether now's a good time to adjust or increase them.
Pro Tip: If your savings account is already pretty healthy, reroute your automatic deposits into a retirement account, college fund, or investment account. Also, consider earmarking chunks of cash you get, like annual tax refunds, for savings too.
#5 Back it up
Create backups of all of your important financial documents and account information. That means backing up digital files on another hard drive and backing up your backups by storing them in the cloud.
Pro Tip: Create a "master" file as a "key" to explain how your backups are organized and where to find what information. You can also organize financial access passwords with a secure password manager. This reorganization can help you out with your next financial spring cleaning. This can also give you a head start on estate planning, allowing an estate executor to access all of your digital assets and information.
#6 Check in with your bigger financial goals
How are you doing on your financial goals, big and small? What progress have you made and where are you falling short? Reviewing where you're at, how far you've come, and where you want to be can help you figure out when and how to adjust course, so you stay on track.
Pro Tip: Turn this step into a conversation so you can get feedback and a fresh perspective. Talking about your bigger financial goals can motivate you to stick with them.