Spring Cleaning Your Finances: 6 Tips for Getting into Financial Shape This Year
If you like the idea of a good spring cleaning—clearing up the clutter and sprucing up your home to make a fresh start—why not do the same thing for your finances?
The end of tax season is a great time to reevaluate your saving and spending habits and organize your finances. You can even brag to your trendy friends that you went all Marie Kondo on your paperwork and “sparked joy” by getting a better grip on your budget.
Here’s a financial spring-cleaning checklist to get you started:
1. Organizing Your Files
Why not celebrate the end of tax season by shredding old, unneeded paperwork, digitizing the financial documents you must keep, and securing the hard copies somewhere safe?
You can start by collecting all the receipts you’ve left around the house, in your car, and in your briefcase or bag. Set aside anything you might need for next year’s taxes and records related to home improvements, major purchases, work expenses, and medical costs.
2. Updating Your Passwords
Even if you missed out on National Password Day on March 15, you can still improve your online security by updating and strengthening your passwords. The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have these recommendations:
• Make your passwords long, strong, and complex with at least 12 characters, mixed upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
• Avoid common words and phrases.
• Don’t reuse passwords.
• Use multi-factor authentication when available. Two-factor authentication requires your password and one other piece of information to log in, such as a code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app.
• Consider a password manager. Then use a strong password to secure the password manager.
• Select security questions to which only you know the answer. Stay away from easy-to-obtain information.
• Change your password quickly if there’s a security breach.
3. Dust off Your Budget
Even the best-laid budgets require an update from time to time. Some recommend going over your expenses and making adjustments every month. If that isn’t doable for you, a seasonal reset might be a good way to get your finances back in order.
Once you’ve reviewed and revised the monthly musts—housing, food, utilities, transportation, etc.—you can do an inventory of your debts, from the biggest (student loans and credit card bills), to the smallest (that money you still owe your mom), and consider making a plan to pay those down.
And don’t forget to set aside some money to start or replenish an emergency fund and to save toward short- and long-term goals. This is also a good time to review your spending habits.
Is there one part of your budget that seems to blow up on a regular basis? Keeping that in mind, use technology (or good old pen and paper) to bird dog your daily spending on things like specialty coffee drinks, fast food, and video games.
4. Cutting Costs
Bargaining for a better rate from current service providers can help make a difference when costs seem overwhelming.
If you think you’re paying too much for cable, internet, or phone service , it can’t hurt to contact those businesses and ask for a better rate. And if your cable company won’t cooperate, consider cutting the cord—the alternative are increasing and improving constantly.
5. Simplify Your Finances
With a SoFi Checking and Savings® checking and savings account, there are no account fees (subject to change). This means you can spend and save in one place. And SoFi Checking and Savings is entirely online and can be easily accessed through your phone.
With SoFi, you also can refinance your student loans, take out a personal loan to pay down debt, get a home loan or refinance your current mortgage, and/or save for the future with SoFi Invest. And SoFi membership has its privileges, including events, career services, and a referral program.
Checking in on Your Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once a year.
The takeaway? Spring cleaning your financial house could benefit your budget and improve your bottom line. Whether it’s a few minor tweaks or a complete overhaul, try to set aside some time to reorganize, rebalance, and refocus on what you want your money to do for you.
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