Spring is in the air and for many that means it is time for clearing out the winter clutter and making room for fresh air around the home. Why not kick those old habits, shred your ancient documents and re-affirm your New Year’s resolution to stick to an affordable budget.
There is no better time to shed those bad money habits and start clean with a new budgeting attitude. Take some time to do a first-quarter financial review and make adjustment now to ensure a successful financial year.
Here are a few simple tips for spring cleaning your family budget:
Review your Budget and Track your Spending
Take this opportunity to look over your current budget, update changes in expenses, review your financial goals and assess how you’re managing your money. Check out sites like Mint.com and Budget-Tracker for free online software to plan, track and manage your budget.
Decide Which Expenses can be Cutback
Consider your financial goals and current situation, then evaluate your “wants” from your “necessities.”
Update, Organize & Purge Your Documents
Generally, it is okay to shred all tax returns, canceled checks and returns, and other receipts verifying tax deductions over 7 years old. Trash any other documents you can do without and organize the ones you do have to keep in a proper folder which can be secured or locked in your home office.
Update your Financial Passwords
A spring cleaning of your finances should also include organizing all your passwords, varying passwords, and compiling them in a single, secure spot.
Check your Credit Report
If you haven’t done so, get your free credit report to stay on top of your finances and plan for paying down debts or improving your credit score
Boost your Savings or Start an Emergency Fund
It’s easy to forget about your rainy day stash when everything’s going well, but remember to add more money to your emergency fund just in case things go sour. There are plenty of costly unexpected expenses that can happen, so have a healthy emergency account to buffer yourself against hard times
Make Contributions to your IRA
It’s not too late to make your 2012 contribution to your existing traditional IRA or Roth IRA accounts. Although the contribution limit for 2012 is $5,000 ($6,000 for 50 and older), you don’t have to meet the maximum. Put forward what you can, and remember, a little is better than nothing! And if you don’t already have an account, there is still time to start one before the deadline
Try Negotiate Rates with Service Providers
Try to negotiate lower rates by picking up the phone this month. Talk to your bank, cell phone provider, cable company, and more
Review your Insurance Coverage
Add up how much it would cost to replace all of your valuables and compare this figure with the amount of coverage in your homeowner’s policy to determine whether you’re over or under-insured.
The main reason people put off setting up a budget is because they think it’s too hard. It does not have to be a sacrifice, if you take simple steps and make adjustments throughout the year, you will find that you can build a budget to fit your lifestyle.