Finances. Money. Budget. Savings. These are all words we cringe at but know they’re essential to our lives. Our finances and money allow us to provide for ourselves and our children, our budget keeps our spending in check and our savings help us prepare for the future. While in the spring cleaning mode (and with tax season right around the corner), let’s get our finances in order along with our kitchen pantry, hallway closet and guest bathroom. After all, our money situation is way more important than a clean house, so here’s to spring cleaning our finances!
Track spending for one month
Before you can get your finances in order, you need to know where exactly your money is going. We challenge you to keep track of your money coming in versus your money going out for one month. Make a simple Excel spreadsheet, leaving the top 5 rows for incoming money and the rest of the rows for outgoing money. This includes bills, credit card payments, gas, trips to the grocery store, fun money, trips to Starbucks and anything and everything in between. If you spend, record it. It’s as simple as that. No need for anything fancy — just record it.
View the results
Are you spending more than you’re making each month? Or are you making more than you’re spending? Hopefully, you’re making more than you’re spending. If not, some adjustments need to be made. It’s vital to save every month, and it’s possible for every income. Some tips for learning to save money include:
- Switching to less-expensive cell phone and cable/internet plans
- Buying generic food and cleaning products when possible
- Asking credit card companies to lower your interest rates (it works!)
- Treat savings as a bill and pay yourself first
Look at places you can cut back
Even if you’re saving money each month, it’s important to be aware of how much you’re spending so you can pinpoint any areas in which you could cut back. Let’s face it — we can all cut back. If you spend a lot on work lunches, commit to bringing your lunch once per week. If you find a good chunk of your money is going to hair and nail salons, take out a trip or two per month. Do you go to Starbucks every morning? Downsize your drink or only go three times per week instead of five. The little things do add up — and you’ll sleep better and be happier knowing you’re saving more!
Go through all financial documents and paperwork
This one could take some time, but it goes hand-in-hand with spring cleaning your house. Sort out all of your financial documents — including bills, pay stubs, credit card statements, tax returns, insurance policies, deeds and investment statements. Anything that’s old or no longer necessary, shred. For the remaining documents, purchase a file cabinet or file box to keep everything organized. Now, whenever you need to access an important document, you’ll know just where to go.
Do this every year. Spring cleaning is no longer just about deep-cleaning your home, it’s about getting down and dirty with your finances!
Do you have any tips for cleaning up your finances or saving money? Share in the comments below!