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Spring has sprung and we’re onto summer – did you finish spring cleaning yet? Whenever we think spring cleaning, our brains jump straight to closets and cabinets and clearing out the clutter. But there’s another, potentially even more important, impactful thing in our lives to spring clean – our finances. So, spring cleaning your finances is the topic of today’s post, and it’s a big one! (I had my friends at Lexington Law™ help out – I’m excited to introduce them to you, because they bring so much value to the table). We’ve got a handful of helpful tips ahead for spring cleaning your finances, so let’s hop right into it.
- Reconcile your budget. First thing’s first: make sure you’ve got accurate tabs on what’s what in your budget right now. Go through your bag and pull out the old receipts at the bottom for the Target runs and Chick-fil-A drive thrus. Mark off where your spending has been coming from categorically (ex: Home, Food, Entertainment, etc).
- Refresh it accordingly. Wait…you HAVE a budget, right? Right???? No worries if you don’t – read this and this and get on it ASAP.
- Check your spending. As you’re doing your budget refresh, make note of any spending and check whether or not it aligns with your end goals. If you’re dropping a few Benjamins every pay day in online shopping escapades…are you still on track to hit your bigger, important financial goals with that, or does it throw things *slightly* off course? Not sure about you, but I for one am not one for weekly spending sprees when I’m also prioritizing things like saving for a single-family home in the future, or a fun family trip – things that take some time.
- Expense-check your calendar. By this I mean sit down with your calendar and check out what’s upcoming. Is wedding season approaching? Do you have any bridal or baby showers on the schedule? What about a vacation, girls’ weekend, or even a date night out? If you can roughly lay out what and where exactly dollars are to be spent, it helps mentally assign paychecks to places where they need to be – instead of experiencing an OOPS moment in line at Target, since we’ve all #BeenThereDoneThat. 😉
- Consolidate accounts. I did this not too long ago and it was SO freeing! Do you have mutiple bank or checking accounts open? And…are you really using them all? Wherever possible, consolidate down to keep yourself systemized + streamlined, with a better handle on your own financial story. This helps paint the picture in your own mind of where you’re at, and where you’d like to go!
- Check your credit score. Remember the kid song Do you know the Muffin Man? I feel like the grownup version of that is Do you know your credit score??? You’re entitled to a free credit report annually…did you know that??? This is SO good to check for things like fraud or identity theft, but to also just get a sense of your credit health overall. I have an app on my phone that keeps tabs on my score, so it can ping when it goes up…or down. And why! If you DO find your score being negatively impacted by something, it’s important to jump on that ASAP, since that can have seriously huge repercussions. Like, limiting your ability to get a loan for a car, or the amount you’re approved for in a mortgage. If you find something off, though, don’t panic. Instead…
- Do some credit repair. – Luckily, Lexington Law are leaders in credit repair. Credit repair can seriously help if/when you find yourself facing some mistakes – since hey, they happen! I had a girlfriend who had a credit mishap during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, when she was accidentally charged for FOUR TIMES her order – which put her a few thousand dollars above her credit limit on her credit card. J’s credit score was wrecked for a few YEARS (7 years, to be exact) because of a $6 iTunes charge that he didn’t even realize he had. And one tiny mistake could cost your credit score as much as 110 points, which could mean denial instead of approval for credit. So first off…what is credit repair?! Credit repair means disputing items on your report that may be unfair, inaccurate, and/or unverified to help improve your report to be as fair and accurate as possible. Ain’t nobody got time for mistakes that can take YEARS to get off on their own, or have seriously stressful impact! Lexington Law leads the way in credit repair by helping to take care of a few things. They do a credit report analysis first and foremost, collecting info on your full credit history from the three main sources in the industry. Then, they handle credit disputing, where they review your case and send out disputes to the appropriate recipients. THEN, there’s a dispute escalation process, should additional legal representation be needed to help your case. Lastly, you receive credit score analysis and mentoring with 24/7 access both online and in an app to 27+ years worth of personal finance experience, for a credit score that is as high and healthy as possible. Lexington Law customizes every case, too, since no two credit reports are the same! Give them a call for a free credit report analysis if you’re unsure where you stand. (Their number is 1-855-763-8683 – individual results will always vary).
- Set up auto-pays for bills to avoid late fees (and damaged credit) – Just like what happened to J, ain’t nobody got time for pesky late fees when you didn’t even realize you were late! After a few $30 late payments to my own credit card, I wised up and set up autopay to at least get the monthly minimum in on time. Set yourself up with anything due regularly, to avoid any hits to both your bank account and credit score.
- Throw some extra to retirement. I know the first thing we’re all gunning for come tax return season as twenty-somethings is likely not extra cash for when we’re sixty-somethings…but it can count bigtime when you invest more now versus later! (Don’t believe me? Read this – the numbers don’t lie!). Whenever possible, take a chunk o’ change to put towards a “big” investment fund, whether that’s retirement, a mortgage, etc. It is absolutely crazy the amount we pay in interest for things over time, so anytime you can pay down the principle more or bulk up that main fund…do it!
- Rate shop around. – Don’t settle for face value if there’s better value around the corner! I recently realized I was paying about TWICE what my girlfriend was for a phone bill…and she had a better plan, too! We can be creatures of habit and get sucked into routines, but that could cost ya down the road if you don’t shop around every once in awhile. Whether that’s your cell phone, cable, different insurances…take some time to spring clean your rates and see if you could get a discount here or there for loyalty or a package that better suits your everyday lifestyle.
- Cancel subscriptions. – If I had a nickel for every random iTunes subscription in my bill…wow. I recenty found a cleaning product subscription and a granola bar subscription (literally) that were trying to renew themselves in my email. Thank U, next. We all have them, from Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and then subscription boxes for everything from fitness products to beauty products. If it’s not something you lovelovelove and/or use regularly anymore – let it go! Subscriptions majorly add up over time, so you’ll save yourself a few hundred bucks by being choosy.
- Go paperless. – Whenever you can opt for paperless paperwork, make it happen and save the trees. Monthly credit statements can be *thick*, and you can just as easily (if not more easily) view all of your transactions in an orderly fashion online. If anything, it’s likely even easier, since you can match transactions to any corresponding online receipts and can pay directly online, too.
- Check out your emergency fund. – An emergency fund is life-saving – literally! Yours should be able to cover about 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Of course, that’s the goal…so it’s A-OK if you’re not there yet. That takes time to build! But check out yours to see where it’s at, and identify where you might be able to throw a bit more into it, just for those uncertainties in life. They say accidents happen, and they’re unexpected for a reason. Rain comes…whether or not you’ve got an umbrella is your own choice.
- Check in on investments. – Spring cleaning your finances should always always always involve checking in on any investment portfolios you have, whether or not they’re managed by your employer or not. If you can, MAX OUT. That’s the best way to ensure you’re getting the *most* for every penny invested, and the best way to max out your fund in the end, too.
Will you be spring cleaning your finances? And had you heard of Lexington Law before?
Do any tips above stand out as must-do’s on your list now? Let me know in a comment below!
*Thanks to Lexington Law, a brand I lovelovelove, for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions + thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank YOU for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!