Spring Cleaning: Your Financial To-Do List
It’s springtime! As you celebrate the season of renewal, make sure to add sprucing up your finances to your to-do list, to help stay on track for the rest of the year.
Here are some ways to improve your finances and general money management this time of year.
De-clutter your finances
As you sift through the “stuff” piled up around your home and throw out useless clutter, it’s a good idea to do the same for your finances.
Cut out extra expenses. Review your monthly budget for expenses that may be cluttering it up – like subscriptions you don’t use anymore or upgraded apps and services you don’t really need.
Simplify your monthly bill-paying. Move all due dates to the same day and set up an automatic payment so you’re never late.
Clean up your money management. To budget and keep track of your spending with minimal effort, use a personal finance app like YNAB or Mint. Arizona Federal members have access to our free Money Management tool for tracking spending and setting a budget.
Simplify your savings. Make saving money easier by setting up an automatic monthly transfer between your checking account and savings account.
Review your W-4
Post-tax season is the perfect time to look over your W-4 to determine if you’re withholding too much money – or too little.
While a generous tax refund might seem like good news, what it really means is that you’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan throughout the year.
You don’t want to withhold too little money and end up with a big tax bill to pay at the end of the year, either.
To find that perfect sweet spot, work out the numbers using the IRS’ withholding calculator; use tax software like Turbo Tax; or ask a professional accountant to help.
Protect your personal information
Get rid of any documents that can compromise your safety. In today’s digital world, there are very few hard-copy documents you’ll need to hold onto. You can safely shred account statements, credit card bills, utility bills, insurance bills and more.
Make sure to keep a copy of anything that requires your signature, such as the deed of your home and your car title. Also hold onto unpaid loan statements and your tax returns.
Keep these papers, as well as your most important sensitive documents, like your Social Security card, birth certificate and marriage certificate, in a fireproof box or in a locked file cabinet.
It’s also a good idea to clean up your computer and phone, deleting any downloaded documents that can compromise your privacy and deactivating your accounts on websites you no longer frequent.
Throw away a debt
Did you resolve to work aggressively toward paying down your debts this year? Dust off that New Year’s resolution and take a hard look at your progress this spring. Is the debt going anywhere, or are you still trapped in the cycle of making just minimum payments that mostly go toward interest?
Get serious about getting out of debt by making a list of all debt in order from smallest to largest. Work out a plan for maximizing your payments on this debt, acquiring the necessary funds by trimming an expense category on your monthly budget or taking on some freelance work for extra cash.
Once you’ve paid off the smallest debt, work on the next-smallest debt until you’re completely debt-free. As you progress through your list, be sure not to neglect the minimum payments due on any of your debts.
Your Turn: What’s on your financial to-do list this spring? Tell us about it in the comments.