The warmer weather is here (kind of!). For most, the warmer weather brings with it optimism! At this time of year, many of us begin to tackle tasks and items we have put on hold throughout the long winter months. So, while you are tackling that spring clean-up around your house and yard, this is the perfect time to also do a check-in on where you sit financially.
If you have followed Deerwood Bank’s content closely, then you know we recommend doing an audit on your finances at least twice a year. Springtime allows us the perfect time to reset our habits and goals and get prepared for what is sure to be a busy six months! To help you get started on your financial wellness check, we’ve put together 10 steps that will help you spring clean your finances.
1. Set up a budget for yourself. (If you already have a budget in place, skip to #2)
If you have not already set up a budget for yourself and your family, do so right away. A good budget should reflect your needs and wants, while also providing you with a scope of your entire financial situation. If you need help setting up a strong budget, go over to https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587, or give us a call!
2. Review Your current budget and its effectiveness.
This time of the year allows each of us the perfect opportunity to check in on our budget and spending throughout the last six months. If you have gotten off track of the goals and objectives you set within your budget, let’s get you refocused. 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.
2a. Pick out your weaknesses and budget to avoid them.
If you are spending way too much money on your morning coffee stops, adjust your budget so it will force you to limit, or even skip this expense. Instead of $3 a day on coffee, try setting your coffee budget to $12 a month, allowing yourself one coffee stop per week!
3. Set goals for the next 6 months.
Now that we have identified the strengths and weaknesses of our spending and established areas in which we could improve, it’s time to evaluate your goals for the next few months and determine how we need to adjust our budget to reach those objectives. What are you hoping to accomplish in your next 6 months? Are you working to get out of debt? Are you trying to get a better grasp of how and where you spend your money? Whatever your objective, start with that and adjust your budget to achieve your goal.
Now that we have discussed how to connect your budget to your financial wellness over the next half-year, let’s talk about some practical steps you can take to clean up your finances moving forward:
4. 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 of years, you may be able to get a lower rate and save money. Well, that was simple!
5. 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 (like Prime, Target, Walmart, etc.). Can you eliminate any of these subscriptions that may not really be needed anymore?
6. Consider cutting the cable cord.
With summer coming, how much time do we really have to watch tv? Consider decreasing your cable package or reviewing other streaming options that are available to you.
7. 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!
8. 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. Find a nice and simple bank account with no fees.
9. 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!
10. 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. If you are a Deerwood Bank customer, you can click here to view our network of thousands of fee-free ATMs.
Follow a few of these suggestions or follow them all. Whatever you choose to do just make sure it sets you up to make the most of the warmer months that are ahead. Enjoy the spring and summer season!