7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances
Spring is an ideal time to clean up your finances, clear out the clutter, and get a fresh start. Maybe you have more money left over at the end of the month and could use a budget tweak. Perhaps you have too many expenses in automatic, or it’s time to apply the brakes to your credit card spending. Whatever the reason may be, consider the following seven suggestions to get a better handle on your finances this spring season.
1. Clean Up Your Spending
Whether you call it a budget or a spending plan, you only need to look in the rearview mirror over the past few months and write down your repeating bills and expenses. When you inventory those expenses, assign a priority number from one to three, with one being expenses you must meet to avoid being evicted from your home and three being rather nice to have, but you could live without. Clear out or reduce drastically your level three expenses. For example, that $70 cable bill is a great candidate for your first cut. Try less expensive streaming services.
2. Clear the Decks and Put Your Savings on Autopilot
That 50 bucks a month you recouped by disconnecting your cable service can now be redirected automatically to your emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund to cover at least six months' expenses, you could literally be one or two paychecks away from disaster.
3. Review Your Tax Withholding
You’re looking forward to that big tax refund this year. However, what you have actually done is given the U.S. Government a 12-month interest-free loan. Give it to yourself as a monthly upfront paycheck increase. Adjust your withholding for a better balance and slide that extra money into savings or another investment plan.
4. Inventory Your Material Wealth
Dedicate an hour or two to photographing and cataloging your household possessions. Concentrate on big-ticket items like your furniture and expensive electronics. Write out the approximate amount you paid and when you purchased the piece. As you bring new items into your home, save the receipts and update your inventory.
5. Check Into Your Renter or Home-Owner Insurance
Your spring cleaning should include a complete insurance check-up. Go to your insurance files and this time really read the fine print. Is your coverage adequate to replace everything you inventoried after you followed suggestion #4 above? If you own your home, you probably know that replacement costs have risen everywhere. Make sure you're covered.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to check and possibly upgrade your life insurance, especially if your family has grown or your income has gone up.
6. Plug Into Technology
Let the free and secure technology of your online banking platform keep you on the straight and narrow. Most banking sites have the settings you need to do what you wouldn’t do for yourself. Want to receive a warning when your account balance gets too low or your credit card spending is over a set amount? Your bank can do that via email or text message.
7. Get Your Paper Files in Order
For the financial papers you must keep, devise an orderly filing system. If you’re after a more simplistic method, head to your office supply store and buy an expandable folder with month separator tabs. Stash the papers you usually throw away each month in the appropriate month of the folder.
Finally, remember that bad financial habits come from neglect and passive spending decisions. Spring is the ideal time to get back in the driver’s seat and reacquire the big picture. Clear out the clutter and do away with what is not working for you.
Jeff Spitzmiller is the CEO of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning based in Cincinnati, OH. Ohana specializes in life and financial planning for professionals in the healthcare and university fields. The firm is an independent financial advisor and a fee-only fiduciary. Jeff and the firm also enjoy volunteering and giving back to the local community. You can reach Jeff at email@example.com.
This was prepared by Ohana Wealth & Life Planning; a federally registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The oral and written communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning Form ADV Part 2A & 2B can be obtained by written request directly to Ohana Wealth & Life Planning 212 East Third St. Ste. #100 Cincinnati, OH 45202. All opinions and estimates constitute the firm’s judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This is provided to investment advisory services clients of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Investing may involve risk including loss of principal. Investment returns, particularly over shorter time periods are highly dependent on trends in the various investment markets. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The information herein was obtained from various sources. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information provided by third parties. The information given is as of the date indicated and believed to be reliable. Ohana Wealth & Life Planning assumes no obligation to update this information, or to advise on further developments relating to it. This is for informational purposes only. It does not address specific investment objectives, or the financial situation and the particular needs of any person. An index is a portfolio of specific securities, the performance of which is often used as a benchmark in judging the relative performance of certain asset classes. Indexes are unmanaged portfolios and investors cannot invest directly in an index. An index does not charge management fees or brokerage expenses, and no such fees or expenses were deducted from the performance shown.