So spring has sprung, which is pretty rad. Mainly because winter felt like it was an endless snowy pit of despair and that the sun would never rise again. But the sun did rise again, and now we can stop being miserable and actually get our lives in order before summer — and that means spring cleaning your finances. Flowers are blooming and the snow is beginning to melt. We needed this fresh start... and so did our bank accounts.
With all the messes we need to clean up this spring, our finances should be first priority. It's tough to stay motivated and make smart financial decisions when the sun sets at 4 p.m. and you need to keep adding layers (and thus, new clothes) in order to stay warm. Basically, your finances took a backseat this winter, and are now a bit of a mess. You haven't looked at your credit score since 2014, and you're really hoping it starts with a seven or an eight. And your credit cards have been working overtime to bring you one of everything from Amazon Prime. But it's going to be OK, because there are plenty of ways to spring clean your finances and get them back into shape. Here are some seriously easy and handy tips (some from our friends at Mint.com!) to help.
1. Reevaluate Your Money Goals
Remember how one of your New Year's resolutions was to bring down all of that credit card debt? You still have time to do that before 2015 comes to an end. Tweak those goal timelines in a realistic way to make it possible to reach them by the end of the year. You can do this.
2. Haggle With Your Cable Provider
They are ALWAYS running specials. So call them up and say you plugged in your shiny new streaming box and have no need for cable anymore. They will offer you the moon plus six months of Starz for free. And Outlander is coming back in April so..... you need to do this.
3. Review Your 2015 Spending So Far
Face the red head on, and take a close look at where your money has been going for the last three months. Tally up your spending on take out and Starbucks orders and monthly box subscriptions, and see where you can cut back. Because you definitely can cut back.
4. Cut Up Your Credit Cards
If you've been maxing them out as of late, then they won't help you in an emergency situation anyway. The only way to kick off a healthy credit card habit is to eliminate your dependence on using them for every little thing. Grab those shiny scissors, and cut away.
5. Check Your Credit Score
Our friends at Mint.com recommend checking in on your credit score... now. "If it's lower than you had hoped, commit to making all credit card payments on time and focus your energy on chipping away large credit card balances and sources of debt," they suggest.
6. Make Your Lunch The Night Before
Leaving work and getting food at lunch during the week is super easy, and it's an alluring trap to fall into. But let's say you only spend $5 per day on cheap sandwiches. That's $25 per week. Factoring in a two-week vacation, if you work 50 weeks per year, that's $1,250 you're spending on weekday lunches. Consider making your lunch at home, and saving all that money for a tropical vacation your mind and body desperately need.
7. Turn Trash Into Cash
Mint also recommends cleaning out your home and closet to find items that could be donated or sold. “Separate the items you no longer need, want, or use. The blender collecting dust in the back of your kitchen cabinet or the clearance sweater you thought you’d love could be your key to extra cash. List big ticket items on resale sites like Craigslist and try Threadflip or a local resale store for clothing, accessories, and smaller household goods. Donate remaining items to your favorite charity, many of which offer tax refund slips."
8. Save The Earth And Go Paperless
Who knew saving the planet could save you money? Getting rid of that filing cabinet filled with old bills and credit card statements will declutter your mind and budget. Instead, find a free app like Mint Bills that will help you schedule your bill payments digitally and will send you reminders when you have important due dates looming. So easy!