4 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances

Piggy bank savingsSpring is right around the corner! What better time to clear out clutter, spruce up the yard and organize your life? And, if you really want to do a little spring cleaning where it will really make a difference, why not use this time to spiff up your finances?

In this post, we’ll go over a few helpful hints for spring cleaning your personal finances and help you develop good money management habits. Let’s get started!

1. Sign up for online bill pay

Paying bills has never been more convenient, now that online bill pay is a common option for just about every company out there. From paying your cable bill to car insurance to credit cards and more, you can literally pay what you owe with the click of a button.

To make things even easier, consider signing up for automatic bill drafts that take what you owe each billing cycle out of your designated account. This can help prevent you from facing late charges due to forgetting to put the check in the mail or accidentally spending that money on something else.

2. Create a plan to pay off debt.

Debt is something most of us have to deal with at least once or twice in our lives. Some debt is even good for us – it helps establish a credit history (which is important if you plan on buying a car or a house), and it helps teach us how to manage credit wisely. Unfortunately, some people are burdened with an overabundance of debt. Perhaps they’ve got a lot of student loan debt, unpaid medical bills, or high-interest credit card balances. If any of this applies to you, the most important thing to do is to have a plan. Don’t sit and wallow in the frustration or feel hopeless. You can take charge of your debt today!

Start by making a list of all of your debts. Evaluate which ones have the highest balances and which ones have the highest interest rates. Most credit experts will tell you to work on paying off the high interest balances first, then work your way down. It may be helpful to speak with a debt counselor in your area or financial advisor. You may even be able to find professional advice for free or at a reduced cost. Check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for more information.

Another option for dealing with debt is through debt consolidation. One way of doing this is through a debt consolidation loan, which is where a lender essentially pays off your debt for you and rolls the total amount (plus fees and interest) into one loan that you make payments on until the entire balance is paid off. While this may be a good option for some people, it’s not necessarily the best choice for everyone.

Another way to consolidate debt is through a cash-out refinance. If you own a home and are eligible for refinancing, a cash-out refinance can allow you to refinance your mortgage for more than what you owe, and you can receive the difference in cash. You can then use that cash to pay off your debts. Like with a debt consolidation loan, a cash-out refinance may not be the best choice for everyone. Talk to a licensed, knowledgeable mortgage lender for more information.

3. Check your credit score.

One way of keeping your finances in good shape is to be proactive. Keep an eye on your credit score, even if you don’t plan on taking out any more loans any time soon. Everyone is entitled to a free credit check from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once per year. Some companies even offer free credit score estimation services that you can check as often as you want.

If you find that your credit reort contains errors or you suspect there is fraudulent activity tied to your accounts, make sure you report it immediately.

4. Set up a retirement account.

If you haven’t already done so, make it a goal this year to set up a retirement account. Nowadays, many companies do not offer retirement benefits so it’s up to individuals to plan and save up for their own retirement. Talk to a financial planner or counselor for advice on what type of retirement plan will work best for you. Roth and Traditional IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) are very common and can be very beneficial for many reasons. Want to know how and where to open a Roth IRA? Check out this helpful guide from GetRichSlowly.com.

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