Spring is here, and while you’re chasing those dust bunnies out of their corners, don’t forget to put aside some energy to spring clean finances. It’s always easier to make good spending decisions when your personal financial environment is well-organized. Here are four great ways to welcome springtime by lightening the load on your budget:
1. Transfer a balance to a lower interest rate
Are you paying off a high-interest credit card debt? It might be time to carefully take advantage of one of those zero-percent balance-transfer offers from a rival credit card company. While this type of transfer can save you some interest, it’s important to remember that you haven’t actually reduced your indebtedness when you zero out the old card. Combine the balance transfer with a plan to pay off the new credit card a little faster than the old one.
2. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use anymore
As more and more online businesses peddle subscription models, you are likely to have at least one or two you just aren’t using anymore. Check all those little monthly bites that get taken out of your bank account, and make sure you’re really reading the magazines, watching the movies, or using the hair product of the month that arrives in a box on your doorstep.
3. De-clutter your records
If you aren’t running your own business, you’re not obliged to retain household receipts for years on end. Rent or buy a shredder and get rid of bank statements and paid bills from prior years. Unless your income tax reporting has complexities relating to bad debts or securities losses, you can discard tax returns that are more than three years old. If you need help organizing your records, you can use a service like Neat that will scan and organize all your records.
4. Check the accuracy of your credit report
You are entitled to request a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Check these credit reports for inaccuracies. The Federal Trade Commission says that 20 percent of consumers who reported a mistake on their credit report actually saw their credit score rise as a result of the error being corrected. A better credit score means you’ll pay thousands less on a mortgage or auto loan, so your investment of time may be well rewarded. And if your credit report is accurate, it’s good to know that as well. If you want to check your credit report, try a credit report monitoring service to make sure you check all three of your reports.
Spring is a time to plant seeds, and not just outside in the garden. To grow your dreams and nurture a blooming future, it’s time to give your financial universe a freshening up.