Spring may be the traditional season for overhauling your housekeeping, but it’s also a great time to overhaul your personal finances. By doing a little spring cleaning on personal finance issues such as credit card payments and budgeting, you might be able to save hundreds of dollars a year in unnecessary fees and interest rates. Here are five tips for spring cleaning your finances:
1) Pay Off Those High Interest Cards
Choose the highest interest cards and take care of them first. If you can’t pay them off, then increase your payments so you can pay them off more quickly. If you are able, use a balance transfer credit card with a 0% interest bonus so you will have up to a year and half to pay off your balance without being charged interest. Here is a great list of 0% interest credit cards.
2) Use Online Tools to Help You Get Organized
There are a number of free tools online that can help you with everything from balancing your budget to calculating how much money you’ll need for retirement. By using these tools, you can organize your finances, prioritize your budgeting and even kick-start your retirement savings plan into gear. One of the best tools to use is LearnVest, which can help you organize your finances and even give you advice on how to save money.
3) Update Your Cable/Internet/Phone Package
Thanks to today’s competitive industry, cable, Internet and cell phone companies are in a bidding war for your business, and many of them routinely offer attractive package deals and discounts every few months. With a simple phone call, you can update your service package to reflect these discounts, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
4) Familiarize Yourself with Your Credit Status
You can find out your credit score and get a full credit report for free by contacting Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your accounts to make sure that there haven’t been any fraudulent or incorrect charges made on them. Knowing your credit score will help you make better-informed financial decisions during the coming year. If you want to keep track of how your credit score is doing on a regular basis, you can also sign up for a credit report monitoring service. Here is a list of the best credit report monitoring services.
5) Take Advantage of Offers and Rewards
If your credit cards offer no-fee balance transfers with a lower interest rate, consider transferring some of your high interest debts to these low interest cards. Likewise, if you use rewards cards, check your rewards status to see if you have any available discounts or benefits that need to be cashed in. You can also check out the most up-to-date deals in Simple. Thrifty. Living’s Deals section here.
One bonus spring cleaning tip: Clean out your paperwork. According to the experts, you need to hang on to any tax-related documents (including receipts) for seven years in case you’re audited, but you only need to save credit card and bank statements (as long as they don’t have any tax significance) for a year. Likewise, canceled checks, withdrawal receipts and ATM deposits slips can be thrown out immediately after you’ve confirmed that the transactions have been posted on your bank statements. Once you’ve thrown out all that excess paperwork, you’ll find it much easier to organize your personal finances.