Did you miss your extra hour of sleep yesterday? Springing the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time signals that spring is on its way and what better time to tackle the financial clutter in your life.
The arrival of spring signals the usual seasonal cleaning duties and with the beautiful weather this weekend, I was outside clearing all the icky sand from the lawn and driveway.
With all the cleaning duties around the house, we’re likely to forget about our finances. Spring is the perfect time to refresh and tackle your financial clutter – from clearing out the filing cabinet to refreshing your budget to checking in on your credit score and goals.
Since spring also heralds tax time and I’m already sorting and going through paperwork, what better time to take it a few steps further and clear the clutter.
6 Ways To Tackle Your Financial Clutter
1. Clear The Financial Clutter – shred old documents, go paperless and re-organize.
It’s so freeing getting rid of crap – whether it’s clothes, clearing junk from your desk or removing a few hundred candles from your collection – it feels as if a weight of excess has been removed from your shoulders. Financial experts recommend keeping most documents for 7 years and then out they go! When organizing for your taxes, it’s a great time to purge the excess paper and shred it for safety. For your electronic life, cut down on clutter by signing up for e-bills or e-statements – you never know, you might even win something! Many companies use contests and discounts to entice customers to the electronic side of things. Consider using epost.ca for all your bills.
2. Check Your Credit Score
This is a check in you should be doing at least once a year. You have two options: Mail away to get your report for FREE, or purchase online for $20. Be careful! Don’t get hoodwinked into the extra credit monitoring services or fraud protection unless you really need it. In Canada, Transunion and Equifax are the two major companies providing reporting services.
3. Refresh Your Budget and Re-evaluate Financial Goals
Now that the first quarter of the year is almost done, it’s time to check in on your spending. Are there habits you should change? Has your Starbucks addiction gotten away from you? Take a hard, ruthless look at your spending and if you’re not balancing, it’s time to cut back.
Tweaking your goal timelines will also help with your spending. Be realistic to make it possible to reach your goal by the end of the year. It’s far more rewarding to hit a goal at the end of the year than to miss it massively.
4. Sell, sell, sell!
Dig out all that crap in the basement you’re not using and to start selling it. Old sports gear, bicycles, exercise equipment and don’t forget to clear out your closet. As you’re moving your winter clothes to storage, do a quick check as to whether you’ve worn the item or not and whether it still brings you joy to wear. Do the same with your spring wardrobe you’re pulling out of storage. If anything doesn’t fit, is no longer making you happy or is damaged, think about getting it altered, fixed or sending it to consignment or donation.
I personally love donating to the Canadian Diabetes Association and Salvation Army. Canadian Diabetes will even pick it all up from your doorstep!
5. Haggle for discounts or cut off TV, Phone, Mobile phone, Internet, insurance etc.
I am a big advocate for regularly checking in with all the companies who provide you with household services. And I’m an even bigger advocate for cutting it off altogether. Think about whether the service is actually providing you with joy or is it a hindrance in your life? Are you avoiding exercise by watching too much TV or Netflix? Does your home phone sit unused?
Two wins I’ve had recently:
Car Insurance – Received over $1000 back and a reduced rate because the insurance company had removed discounts without me knowing. Did you know you get a discount for storing your car in the garage? I didn’t. How about if you live at home with family and they’re insured with the same company? You could be missing out on 5-10% on each of these.
Internet – I contacted Bell and simply told them I could no longer afford my internet (which I’m getting close to cutting off) and that the competition is much cheaper than them. What did I get? $20 off my monthly bill ongoing and a year of 25GB’s extra usage.
6. Destroy that debt!
Still have debt from the holidays? Now that you’re re-evaluating your financial goals, it’s a great time to amp up your debt repayment plan. Put yourself on a stricter plan to eliminate that debt from the holidays. Need even more help? Maybe it’s time to consider consolidating your debt and getting a lower interest rate.
Keeping your financial life in order will get you one step closer to getting on top of your debt and creating the financial freedom you crave. You’d be amazed how checking in on your finances will keep you on track throughout the year.