Spring is a great time of year to clear your house of clutter and dust away winter’s dirt and grime. Why not do the same for your finances?
Clutter can accumulate there, too. Whatever your current situation, a thorough spring-cleaning for your finances is a responsible move this time of year.
Here are some ways to put your financial home in order.
- Sweep out your budget. Review your monthly spending and find ways to cut back. Have you been going over your Grubhub or Starbucks budget this past year? Buying more shoes than you can possibly wear? Pare down your budget until it’s looking neat and trim.
- Freshen up your W-4. Tax season is prime time for revisiting the withholdings on your W-4. If you received an especially large refund this year, you may want to adjust the amount you withhold. The IRS’s tax withholding estimator can be a useful tool to help you determine the right number.
- Deep clean your accounts. If you’ve switched financial institutions (or paid off a loan), you may have dormant accounts still open that are accumulating fees. And don’t forget about the 401(k) you may have from a previous job. Now may be the time to transfer those funds to your current 401(k).
A minimalist approach to your finances will make it easier to manage your accounts. It will also give your savings a greater chance at growth, and help you avoid fees for unused accounts.
- Toss out your debt. If you’ve been stuck on the debt cycle for too long, make this spring the season you create a plan to break free. First, trim your budget or consider a side hustle for earning some pocket money, designating these extra funds for your debts. Next, choose a popular debt-busting approach, such as the avalanche or snowball method, where you pay off one debt at a time. Once you’ve chosen your approach, maximize payments to the first debt on your list, making sure not to neglect the minimum monthly payments on your other debts. Before you know it, you’ll see those balances dwindle.
- Dust off your saving habits. Have you been remembering to pay yourself first? Get into the habit of maximizing your savings this spring with a tangible financial goal. You can also make savings an itemized line in your budget. This way, you’ll have funds set aside for this purpose, instead of savings only happening if there’s money left over at the end of the month. Finally, try automating your savings by setting up a monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account.
- Tidy up your investments to make them sparkle. Whether you’re an experienced investor or just getting your feet wet, it’s always good to check on your investments and consider consulting an advisor if you’re not sure what to do next. Check if your allocation strategy is still serving you well, whether you need to adjust your diversification, and if your retirement accounts are on track for your estimated retirement timeline.
- Make your tax refund count. Consider creating a spending plan for your tax refund that includes paying down debt, allocating some of the money for long-term and short-term savings, and possibly investing another portion of the payment.
Take stock of your financial picture and see what adjustments make the most sense. Spring is the perfect time to give your finances (and home) a thorough cleaning.