With today being the first day of spring, it’s the perfect time to take control of your finances and get organized for the rest of the year. In fact, spring cleaning your finances will also help you get a jump on next year’s tax returns. Nicole Lapin of Recessionista.com offers the following advice:
1. Invest in yourself: Stop slapping yourself on the wrist for those small indulgences like latte and nail polish. Treat yourself to the smaller things and you’ll be a happier, more productive person in the long run. Remember: everything in moderation, including moderation!
2. Auto-save: The best way to save money is to never have the option of spending it in the first place. Set up a saving plan with your bank to automatically deduct a set portion of your paycheck each month and deposit it into your savings account. Start off small to make sure your monthly expenditures can sustain the amount, and then ramp it up as your net worth grows.
3. You don’t have to be rich to have a financial advisor: Sites like PersonalCapital.com help you manage your assets with a virtual financial advisor, so you can see all of your finances at once and make the best decisions possible. It also comes in a great app version so you can stay plugged in to your money on the go.
4. Get organized: After all these years, we still love Quicken for some of the best financial products around. For about $10 per month, Quicken Bill Pay lets you receive, view, and pay all of your bills from one centralized online platform. It’s a small investment to ensure that you pay on time, and your credit score will thank you. Plus, the typical customer saves $50 per year on postage by paying online.
5. Get better rates: Do a yearly housekeeping call to all of your major bill-generators — your cable, phone, and internet companies — to see if there might be a better deal available. The worst thing they can say is “no,” and you might be looking at a few dollars off per month just for raising the issue.
6. Know your score: Take stock of your credit score at the beginning of the year for a healthy reality check into where you stand, Your credit score will give you a better idea of impending loan opportunities, for a house or further schooling, or taking out a lease on a car. It’s always good to know your purchasing power before you do the actual purchasing.
7. Switch to cash on weekends: It’s easy to get carried away with your weekend free time and overspend on dining, transportation, and entertainment expenses. Give yourself a cash budget for the weekend that fits reasonably within your overall budget, and then hit up the ATM specifically for that amount. Skies the limit — until your cash runs out!