It's spring again -- and that means it's time to look at your financial world and future with a fresh new perspective.
These days, everyone has a few dusty old financial cobwebs in the corners of their lives that seriously need cleaning. But instead of removing those cobwebs when they get the chance, people tend to let them linger longer than they should — which can sometimes make them grow even bigger. Don't let that happen!
If you want to crush spring cleaning this year, check out these tips for spring cleaning for your finances.
Spring Clean Your Finances
To start your financial spring cleaning, you will need to take stock of your current expenses. Get a jump on your spring cleaning process by eliminating any of these unnecessary expenditures:
- Expensive habits like dining out for multiple meals a week
- Subscription services like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, cable, magazines, or video game services
- Overuse of electricity and other utilities
- Too much monthly credit card use
- Overpriced insurance policies
Review Your Goals
If you follow the Atlas Credit blog, you should have some financial resolutions you intend to keep this year. It's time to take a close look at those goals you set and determine whether or not you're on the path to achieving them. If you've veered off course, do everything you can this spring to get yourself back on track. And if you haven't set those goals yet, that's the first step you need to take!
Take Stock of Your Budget
Every household should have a budget. It tells you how much you can spend each month and keeps you within your means. You should budget for everyday items, such as groceries and gas, as well as monthly payments on utilities and rent. Your income should cover your monthly budget, but if it doesn't, you can adjust.
Go over how much you spend each month on necessities. Then look over your previous month's bank statements to find out how much you spent on eating out and entertainment. Such expenses should be the first to go if your income is not covering your monthly costs.
Get everyone in your family on board with the new budgeting system. Ensure they will pay attention to how much they spend and record it in a family spreadsheet. Then you can see with a glance who is sticking to the plan and who needs a reminder.
How to Clean up Debt
Debt can overshadow your budget, especially when it feels too big to tackle. By carefully scheduling your debt payments and budgeting to pay more than the required monthly amount, you can pay off your debt more quickly. Use these tips to decrease your debt as you spring clean your finances:
- Pay more than the minimum each month
- Never miss a payment, or you may have to pay a penalty
- Build debt payments into your monthly budget
- Monitor your credit score to ensure it reflects your steady repayment schedule
You should request a copy of your credit report every spring as well to make sure there is nothing inaccurate on it. If you discover a loan you didn't take out or a credit card account you didn't open, you can pursue a fraud investigation.
Dig Into All of Your Accounts
Like most of us, you've probably created all sorts of accounts over the past few years for your savings, investments, email addresses, entertainment services, and more.
These can get seriously overwhelming and can clog your email inbox like nothing else. Spend a few hours this spring searching through every account registered in your name, and cancel those you use least. Then, look at your bank account transaction histories and be positive every purchase you've made was your doing.
Use the Latest Technology & Go Paperless
Now more than ever, technology has advanced to the point where most of our money matters can be handled with apps, software, and website programs. If you aren't already using some of these to help track your budget, savings, and other financial concerns, you're missing out.
Make sure to download your bank's app and see what kind of services they offer for money tracking. Then, look through your phone or tablet's app store to see what kind of budget apps are available. A little time spent plugging in your info will save you tons of time and money in the long run.
Additionally, nearly every utility and subscription service has the option to go paperless and get your bills via email. You also get reminders that you can act on right away when you see them. For instance, if your electric bill is due in 24 hours, you can hop on the website and make the payment right then. You can set up automatic payments as well, which ensures you won't forget to pay your bill.
When you convert to paperless billing, you add convenience to your life and save paper — which is good for the environment, too.
Every year, Americans accumulate an incredible amount of paperwork. From W2s to credit card offers to fliers from the grocery store, you probably have a stack of paperwork in a corner of your home that's teetering on the brink of collapse.
Comb through these documents to see what you need to hold onto most, and invest in a paper shredder. Not only can a shredder be a load of satisfying fun to use, it's also helpful in keeping your information secure. You don't want someone picking through your trash to find sensitive information about your finances, so shredding unneeded documents is the best way to go.
Best Money Management Apps
If you haven't gone paperless yet, here's your sign to start! Find a money management tool that helps you maintain all aspects of your finances. These tools help with staying organized, learning to manage money, and implementing effective money management techniques.
There is a large selection of money management apps available, so we created this list of our favorite apps for managing your finances. ere are our top picks:
Created by the developers of the ever-popular Quickbooks and TurboTax, Mint allows you to track your spending, create a budget, connect all of your credit cards and bank accounts, follow your monthly bills, and more. You'll know what you have to pay and when every month, and can watch your progress as you steadily grow into a more successful financial wizard.
Mint can help you understand where your expenses are rising and falling and how to control them. You also gain an accurate picture of your income. If you have been living paycheck-to-paycheck, Mint can help you determine where to cut back your expenses to gain more wiggle room.
When you want to get your foot in the door of investment but have never been sure which door to start with, Acorns is the app for you. By connecting to your bank account, Acorns can round up your expenses to the nearest dollar with every purchase and contribute that money to low-cost exchange-traded funds. Over time, you can even find an extra few hundred to a few thousand dollars in your investment account with Acorns.
The best part is, you don't need any special expertise to use the app. It eases you into investing with a safe and effective approach. As you become more confident and see better returns, you may be interested in finding out more about the process and trying it on your own. But anyone can start out with Acorns.
3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
Finding yourself precariously on the edge of serious debt? You Need a Budget (YNAB) helps you by creating a strict budget that allows you to only spend the money you definitely have. YNAB effectively keeps its users out of debt and helps them put money back each paycheck to eventually pay down their debt.
If you have had trouble with budgeting in the past or you lack the discipline needed to stick to a plan, YNAB provides a great solution. You can even look at how to adjust your budget based on what you have the most trouble following each month. Making proactive changes is smart no matter your budget level.
Venmo is great for those of us who hate carrying all of our cash around with us. When you need to pay your friends back for picking up the restaurant tab or get cash from an item you sold on Craigslist, you definitely want to avoid those pesky fees that come with more traditional money transfers. After all, these people can rarely take a debit card. Millennials tend to love the simplicity and hassle-free nature of Venmo — so we recommend you give it a try.
If you can convince your friends to download the app too, then you'll never have to worry about being paid back in a timely fashion.
Plan for Your Future
A big part of spring cleaning your finances is determining what you need for the future as well. If you haven't been saving money, now is the time to start. We recommend that all clients set up an emergency savings fund. The money can cover unexpected expenses, such as new tires for your car or an expensive medical procedure.
Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck, it is still possible to save. You don't have to put away a lot each month — just a few dollars. The money will grow fast as long as you consistently contribute to the account.
If you complete your spring cleaning and realize you could use a little extra money to start or finish a project, pay off some consolidated debt, or simply take it easy for a while, consider a personal loan from a lender like Atlas Credit.
Consider the Credit Benefits of Personal Loans
Sometimes, even after you perform a complete overhaul of your finances, you still have one additional obstacle in the way of accomplishing your goals: your credit score. A bad credit score can make it tough to secure any additional financing from a traditional lender. That's why you should consider the immediate benefits of a personal loan, to get the money you need, ASAP.
Apply For a Personal Loan Online
We have locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia where you can take out a loan, or you can apply online today.
Need More Help Planning for the Future?
Now you understand our number one spring strategy for money management mastery. It's time to put it into practice! Our ongoing money management tips will help you save more and spend less as you plan for your financial future. If you follow these quick tips this season and consider the benefits of personal loans, you'll take a huge step in the right financial direction.
Atlas Credit is all about simplifying the way you live your life. Whether it is through keeping up with the latest and greatest technologies or keeping you out of debt with a quick and easy personal loan of up to $1,500 regardless of your credit score, we love helping our southern communities. Contact us today to learn more!