Cleaning can seem like a daunting task. In fact, the only thing worse than a normal clean, is a spring clean. But once the cobwebs are gone and the dust has settled – reassessing your surroundings becomes much easier. The same can be said for cleaning up your finances. While it may seem daunting at first, you will undoubtedly see the financial fruits of your labour. So here is our spring cleaning financial checklist to help you chase those pesky skeletons (or debts) out of your closet.
1. Cut the fat
So, maybe you’ve been in hibernation these past few months. You may have neglected your savings account by ordering takeaways from the couch and resorted to retail therapy to chase away the winter blues. But with the summer months (and Christmas) approaching, it’s time to whip your finances into shape. Go through your recent bank statements and highlight the areas you spend the most money. If you’ve noticed a pattern, consider cutting down in this area.
2. Review your bills – are you getting the best deal possible?
It can be difficult to find the time to review all your bills and ensure you’re getting the best possible deal. But – like anything worth doing – you’ve got to commit the time. Without research how can you expect to know what the best deals are? There are many comparison sites that let you compare service providers to see who provides the best value for you.
3. Reconsider your goals
What are your three most important financial goals? If you don’t have any yet, think of some and write them down. Once you’ve done this, plan how you’ll achieve these goals and plot them into a calendar.
4. Assess your home and contents
The start of spring is the perfect time to review your personal items and consider what is essential. You might be planning to renovate or restyle your home for the new season. But before you open your wallet look around - is there anything you could sell to cover these cost?’ Likewise if you’re looking to update your wardrobe with some new summer threads, think about selling your winter wears first for some extra cash.
5. Sort out your paperwork
If your paperwork is scattered around the house, your tax invoices pre-date the internet or you’re harbouring bills from the 80s – it might be time to get organised. The first step to making a change is to bring everything together, keep what’s relevant and shred the rest. Consider purchasing a filing cabinet or folder too, that way you know exactly where all your paperwork is at all times. If you do your billing online, try filing your bills in folders on your computer to ensure you don’t lose them.
6. Create your own financial calendar
Most people have no issues creating social or work calendars, but when it comes to finance this is far less common. In order to plan for the future, you need to plot your goals onto a timeline and continually adjust this according to your progress. Computer or mobile application calendars are perfect for this, as they’ll provide reminders to keep you on track.
7. Consolidate debts
It’s not unusual for people to rack up credit card debt over winter and then find themselves struggling to pay it off. When people find themselves struggling to meet their first reaction is to just keep peddling harder in the hope of coming out the other side. But that doesn’t always work out. Another option is to refinance - and consolidate debts into one with a lower repayment. This can make managing debts a little easier. Now that you’re equipped with the necessary tools to complete your clean, get started early and don’t forget consistency is key. There’s no point in cleaning up, only to destroy your hard work due to lack of diligence. Remember, a little bit of effort put in every day is easier than facing a mountain of work down the track.