Today we have a guest post from Gloria Martinez. I encourage everyone to check out her website at womenled.org.
Top Tips for Giving Your Personal Finances a Spring Refresher
Spring is often thought of as a time of refreshment and renewal. We clean our homes, rethink our lifestyles, and resolve to be healthier. Why not include personal finances in that tidy-up?
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First, turn a careful eye toward your various accounts. Put credit card companies, student loans, banks, and insurance companies all under your magnifying glass. Some experts recommend checking interest rates and fees with the mindset of being alert to all the items you are being charged for and then to discover where you might be able to either reduce charges or interest rates.
Did you sign up for any automated services you don’t really use or need? Sometimes we fall into the trap of enjoying that first free month of streaming movies, then forget to cancel when charges are levied. While you’re looking through your accounts, these items should jump out at you. Cancel unneeded services so you can put that money elsewhere.
Do you struggle with your credit? If you tend to let debts get away from you or you hit
a run of bad luck, one suggestion is to request your credit report. Check your history, ensure it only reflects your own activity, and inspect it for errors and other concerns. Resolve any issues you neglected and get things back on track.
Establish routine payments.
Not all automated payments are a bad thing. Aside from issues like the bait of that first free month of movies, automated payments for your necessities can help ease your workload and avoid late fees. For instance, if your water bill is on budget billing, setting it up for an automatic payment through your bank means one less payment to remember each month. Student loans, car payments, and trash removal are other good examples of worthy automatic withdrawals. Think in terms of bills that normally stay the same, and set them up so you don’t need to recall that one is at the first of the month, one is mid-month, and so forth. Most financial management software allows semiannual and annual payments as well, so plug in your license plate renewal, car registration, and other items that aren’t monthly but pop up on schedule.
Check net worth.
Your financial progress in life can be measured with your net worth. As explained by Forbes, your net worth reflects the financial choices you made throughout your life. You can use a free online tool that will take into account your liabilities and assets. Liabilities are items you owe, such as credit cards, and assets are things you own that offer financial value, such as cars, boats, and houses. If you aren’t sure what your home is worth, use a trustworthy online calculator to provide your home-value estimate.
Time for a change.
When you are just a few months into the year, you still have plenty of time to alter your habits. If you enjoyed a spending spree, indulged in some extra debt, or hit a couple hard knocks with an unexpected car or home repairs, the year is still young. There are several months to recoup your budget and end on track. In order to gauge your status, USA Today suggests looking at the moments that changed your financial path. How much can you attribute to happenstance, and how much is poor planning or decision-making? For example, a fender-bender is bad luck, but worn-out tires is poor planning. You know you will need new tires and should budget appropriately for that, while your accident should be covered by insurance and your emergency fund. Buying a new car on a lark is an indulgence unless it’s required because your old one was totaled in the wreck. Carefully think through how you arrived at your current situation. Thankfully, you have time to adjust for any missteps or surprises already incurred, and adjust for future ones with this reality check.
Fresh and clean.
Spring is the perfect time for a financial spruce up. Do some research, make an
honest evaluation, and change habits accordingly. You can breathe easier after your financial spring cleaning!
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