This post is sponsored by Discover, however, all opinions and insane dislike of cleaning are 100% mine.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
I try to keep my home generally neat and tidy, of course, but the crumbs scattered behind the stove will probably stay there until I decide to repaint again, not because March or April suddenly appeared on the calendar…
But I do have to admit, that fresh-start feeling you get when you organize, declutter, or clean an area of your home is pretty high-inducing. And guess what? The same is true of your money too.
Right now is the perfect time to simplify, organize, and set yourself up for financial success for the rest of the year. These 7 steps help you clean and spruce up your finances from start to finish!
1. Declutter Your Wallet
First, let's start with something fairly easy — cleaning out your purse and/or wallet. I don't know about you, but mine is always stuffed with receipts, ticket stubs, business cards, and empty gum wrappers. Yuck!
Take 5 minutes to dump everything out, clear the clutter, and throw away papers you don't need any more. This is also the perfect time to dig out all those gift cards from Christmas and neatly file them right next to your cash. You do not want to forget to use these — they're FREE money!
Let's say, though, you find a gift card you won't ever use. This makes it the perfect candidate to trade in at GiftCards.com. I was a little nervous about doing this at first (I was afraid of getting scammed!), but I actually received my money fairly quickly.
2. Re-evaluate Your Budget
This step is a little more involved, but VERY necessary. Take some time to look over your budget (you have one, right?) and be honest about what's working and what's not.
There may be certain categories where you keep going over, no matter how hard you try to cut back. Think honestly about increasing those sections, and compensate, if necessary, in another. At the same time, if you know you're spending too much in one area, tighten the reigns and give yourself a harder challenge. I know you can do it!
I recently updated our budget when I realized our income sources had completely changed. Some categories we needed to increase, but others we found a few extra dollars to put towards something else. It's always a nice surprise to find out you've budgeted too much.
But even if you have the opposite experience, keep with it! The results will be rewarding in the end.
3. Reduce Your Expenses
Now is also a good time to see what expenses you can lower or cut out completely. This goes for all insurances, utilities, monthly subscriptions, groceries, etc. Absolutely nothing is off limits.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple phone call to your insurance company, or you can go a little more extreme and completely cut your cable bill, using these 9 alternatives instead.
Psst….I just released a book that will help you tackle ALL areas of your budget and lower every single expense. 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses is available for both Kindle and Paperback! Grab your copy HERE.
4. Establish a Financial Goal
You know those financial goals you promised yourself at the beginning of the year? It's about time to revisit them again, so be honest about how you're doing and make adjustments if necessary.
Here are a few ideas:
- Create a Debt Plan – Make a list of all debts and amounts you owe, then commit to a monthly amount to slowly chip away at that balance. Using the Snowball Method, you want to hit the smallest balance first, pay that off, then snowball it right into your next monthly payment. It also might be a good idea to look into a balance transfer. Doing one with Discover, for example, allows you to repay your debt with one monthly payment instead of paying several balances. This helps you save on interest and reach your goals much faster!
- Start or Increase Your Emergency Fund — Emergency Funds are absolutely necessary for all those….you guessed it…..emergencies. Here's how Joseph and I pulled one together in just 90 days, despite completely draining it the month before.
- Start Another Savings Account — Do you want to save for an expensive home improvement project? Save for retirement? Maybe even take a vacation this year? You have to start saving! Go to your bank and open a separate account (so you won't be tempted to touch it), then use a tool like Rize to automate a small portion from your checking to savings. I guarantee you won't even miss it!
5. Check Your Credit Score
It's very important to keep tabs on your credit score. Carrying any kind of debt can have an impact on your overall number, which can then lead to higher interest rates and higher monthly fees.
Discover provides card members their FICO® Credit Score for free on all monthly statements and online, so you can monitor your credit on a monthly basis. This will also allow you to see how reducing your debt has an impact on your overall credit score.
Not sure what to do if you don't have credit at all? The Discover it® Secured Credit Card helps you build credit history with 3 major credit bureaus, plus you get to enjoy all the cash back perks of a regular card!
6. Get More Organized
Spring cleaning is not just about cleaning, it's about organizing too. Make sure your financial information is neat and tidy so you don't misplace important receipts or forget to pay any bills.
Here's a quick peek at the tools I currently use:
- My Financial Notebook, which includes my bill-paying calendar, expense tracking sheets, and other important account information. Get a peek at what that looks like in this Periscope Video.
- A file folder that holds all upcoming bills.
- A jar to store receipts before processing–and a system I follow every week to make sure this jar is always processed in a timely fashion.
- An accordion file to store receipts after processing (the ones I need to save anyway)
- Filing cabinet for credit card and banking statements.
When every piece of paper has a place, it makes updating my finances SO much easier!
7. Review Your Will and Beneficiaries
If you have any beneficiaries listed on your will or any retirement and/or savings accounts, now is the time to review and make sure they're all up to date.
Beneficiaries are those who will receive your assets should something happen to you, and they need to be listed on any accounts that hold a substantial amount of money. Kind of morbid to be thinking about these things, but incredibly necessary if you want your family to avoid a long drawn out and expensive court process.
All these steps might seem really overwhelming at first, especially if your finances need one big overhaul, but don't let that discourage you. Do one step a week until you've completed them all — remember, #1 is by far the easiest! Each step along the way will help you manage money better.
I promise you'll love the feeling of a fresh, Spring-inspired start.
Which Spring Cleaning Step Will You Try This Week?
Discover stands by their mission to help consumers spend smart and save more, by providing the best products and programs for their money. In addition to branded credit cards, Discover also offers private loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. You can learn more about Discover HERE.
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.