You’ve been cooped up all winter and are now probably starting to dream about spring days and soaking up some sunshine. These thoughts typically lead to some sort of spring cleaning. Getting the garage cleared out or going through the house to de-clutter rooms that got to be overtaken during the winter.
In the excitement of the sun returning and getting more active, there are also some active steps you can take to refresh and “spring clean” your financial budget.
The first step to cleaning up your budget is understanding what’s cluttering it up. Where are you spending your money each month? How much do you have coming in? Identify categories like must-haves (mortgage, electricity, groceries, savings), nice-to-haves (eating out, coffee, new clothes), and wish-list items (spring vacation, new car). Then break those down into how much you spend on each per month starting with the must-haves.
Like a good diet, track what you spend for a month or two. Every penny – Where does it go? Taking the time to do this step will help you identify what you spend your money on. This process can be a real eye opener. You might be surprised to see that you spend more on coffee than on your phone bill. Or as much on eating out as you do on your utilities.
- Requote your insurance.
A simple way to save some money is to regularly re-quote your homeowners and auto insurance with multiple companies. Depending on how your driving record, age, or driving situation has changed in the last couple years, you may be able to get a lower rate and save money. Well that was simple!
- Evaluate your subscriptions.
How many subscriptions do you have that automatically renew? Subscribe and Save doesn’t really save you anything if you’re getting products you don’t necessarily need. Think about your streaming subscriptions, magazine subscriptions, or product subscriptions (through Prime, Target, or Walmart). Can you eliminate any of these subscriptions that may not really be needed anymore?
- Consider cutting the cable cord.
Millions of people across the country are cutting the traditional cable cord – and we’ve noticed it’s a hot topic around the bank as well! Many of us at Deerwood have transitioned to streaming services like YouTubeTV or Hulu+ to save some money on cable.
- Find a Credit Card with rewards.
When used correctly, credit cards can actually help you earn money. Research credit cards where you’ll earn rewards monthly – but don’t forget to pay off your card monthly, as well. Make those credit cards work for YOU!
- Check with your mortgage provider to see if you qualify to drop your PMI.
Do you have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on your home? If you’ve purchased your home in the last 8-10 years, the chances are that you do. Could you be getting close to paying off 20% of your mortgage amount? Call your mortgage provider to get a better understanding of how much you pay in PMI each month and when you’ll be eligible for that to be removed. This could save you between $100-$300 per month on average!
- Stop paying bank fees.
Fees are dumb – there, we said it. Watch your bank accounts to see if you’re getting fees for mobile deposits, per-check processing, minimum balance, or other random service fees that many banks charge. These fees are not necessary. Find a nice and simple bank account with no fees.
- Institute a “no-spend” day or week.
This is one of the easiest, and most effective ways to get money back into your budget. Each week, institute a no-spend day (or each month, institute a no-spend week!). It’s really not that hard, but it takes practice. For one day per week, don’t stop for a coffee, find something for supper that’s already in the freezer, don’t stop at a shopping center, and don’t shop online. You’d be surprised what an impact this can have just one day per week.
- Purge some stuff.
One of our favorite things to do in the summer is get stuff out of the house (can you say garage sale?!). Save money by earning money. Go through your house and find items that are in storage or things you don’t need or use regularly. Maybe those snowshoes in the closet that haven’t been worn in 9 years could go? How about the stroller that your kid outgrew 3 years ago? Post it on a neighborhood garage sale site or Facebook marketplace to earn a little extra cash to put towards your wish list!
- Stop paying ATM fees.
ATM fees (like the service fees we discussed earlier) are also unnecessary. Find a bank account that offers fee-free ATM withdrawals at thousands of ATMs. Then, learn where those ATMs are and use them! No more unnecessary fees.
Try a few of these tips or try them all. You’ll have a better handle on where your money is going each month, and you’ll save some dough in the process!