Take a deep breath, spring is finally here!
If your winter was as long and cold as mine, then you’re also looking forward to opening windows, breathing in the fresh air, and soaking up the sunshine. Springtime soothes the soul and revives our spirits.
For many, it’s a time to clean the house and the closets, wash the windows of their winter grime, and air out our homes. Spring is also a good time to get your financial house in order. I’m going to be spending the next few weeks giving my family’s finances a good spring cleaning.
7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances
1. Review your Yearly Goals.
On January 1st, many of us are very gung-ho about writing goals but are we as enthusiastic about those goals on March 12?
Spring is a great time to refresh your memory with what you were thinking at the beginning of the year. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic it’s that things can change without notice. Do our goals still make sense now that we’re in the trenches of the new year?
Take some time to review your yearly financial goals. Did you use the S.M.A.R.T. method when writing them? SMART goals are:
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – achievable and agreed upon
- R – realistic
- T – time-based, tangible,
In 2019, we paid off six figures of non-mortgage debts. It took us many years so I broke the payoff goal into smaller chunks. Each January during that time, we would set a goal to pay off a certain dollar amount, and by January 1, 2019, we could see the end in sight and were able to pay off the final loan in September 2019.
Related Reading: How We Paid off Six Figures of Debt
2. Update (or create) your Family Balance Sheet.
As the family office manager of my home, I needed a succinct way to discuss our finances with my husband. I developed our first family balance sheet many years ago and I still use it today.
I’m a firm believer that finances should be organized and neat, and my Family Balance Sheet helps us keep track of our finances in one tidy spreadsheet. I update it monthly and we always know how much we OWN and how much we OWE.
Related Reading: I offer a FREE excel download to my email subscribers. Learn more about my Family Balance Sheet and how to get a copy here,
3. Clean, Purge and Declutter Your Office Space.
I have a love/hate relationship with my home office space. It’s been in many different areas of our home, such as the corner of our dining room (see pic above), the basement, and a spare bedroom. Currently, it’s being moved to our former family room now that we have updated and turned our basement into a TV room. I’m excited about having a designated room in our home, and it’s the perfect time to create a neat and tidy space.
4. Organize your Financial Documents.
If you have a lot of paper financial documents that you’re not sure what to do with, read How Long Should Keep You Financial Documents. Many people are opting to store financial documents on their computers or the cloud, I have not totally embraced this concept yet and still have a file cabinet and safe for our documents.
5. Check your Credit Report.
It is a good idea to review your credit report periodically to check for any fraudulent activity, such as identity theft. Per the Federal Trade Commission, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order online from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
6. Create a Daily/Weekly/Monthly Financial To-Do List.
Around the time our second daughter was born, I found myself so overwhelmed and distracted that I missed paying the rent for our business office. I’ll blame sleep deprivation, but important tasks were slipping through the cracks and I also got severely behind with some Quickbooks transactions.
To ease my anxiety, I developed a financial to-do list that I still refer to, almost 13 years later. I broke down my responsibilities: business office, home office, and projects. I listed all of the tasks that MUST be accomplished on a regular, timely basis. Tasks might be as simple as ‘reconciling’ or more complex like ‘paying the office payroll taxes’ and at that time, I definitely added ‘Pay Rent’ to that first list.
Since that time, I have automated most of our financial transactions, but I still rely on my list to keep me in check. It is a visual reminder that I keep near my desk so I am able to glance at it regularly. This simple yet effective list has eased my stress and saved me time.
7. Review Your Bills. Are You Paying Too Much?
When was the last time you shopped around for homeowners or auto insurance? This is a great time to perform an audit to review your bills to see if you’re paying too much. I have asked my Facebook friends for their recommendations and experience with various companies and gotten great feedback. Bills to review this spring:
- homeowners insurance
- auto insurance
- life insurance
- mortgage interest rates
- cable TV
- phone service
- internet service
- home heating service
Are you ready to spring clean your finances? Let’s get this season started!