In honor of National Cleaning Week, now is a great time to give your finances a thorough spring clean. Here are eight tips for a money blitz.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us take a step back from our fast-paced daily lives. If there was any silver-lining we had more time to tick off tasks that have lingered on our to-do list for too long. From baking bread to watching Netflix, there was always something more fun to do than plan your finances. But don’t put it off any longer. It’ll make you feel better to know you are in control of your financial situation.
1. Get it together
First, get a full picture of your finances. Gather all your documents, such as annual statements, tax documents, or vendor invoices. Put out-of-date paperwork through the shredder. Keep everything together in one place for handy reference to save time in the future.
2. Make your money work harder
Check all your accounts - could you get a better deal? Although some banks have cut back on their offers for new customers, it’s still worth checking to see where you can save, or even make money. For example, are you paying monthly service charges? Perhaps another provider offers the same service for free?
3. Change all your passwords
Stay safe online. Once you’ve phoned the contact center to retrieve your forgotten username (!), give your passwords a refresh (especially if you have been recently notified of a security incident), making sure they’re secure and memorable, and change them regularly in future. Make a habit of giving your statements a quick check to spot any fraudulent activity - easily done via your banking apps.
4. Spend it wiser
Spending money brings us happiness, so it's rarely ‘wasted’, but we can all admit to non-essential purchases that were not value-for-money. That dress you never wore. That hot tub. Check back through your statements. Ask yourself honestly, was it a waste of money? Add up that spend. What could you spend it on in future instead, a little more wisely?
5. Get a deal
If you’re planning a big-ticket purchase, such as a washing machine, there are certain times of year when new models are released, and current models get reduced. If you can wait, and don’t need the newest model, put a note in the calendar and check back, or sign up for price alerts to see when you could save.
6. Get your kids money-smart
If you've already watched all your kids’ favorite Pixar movies and are stuck for activity ideas, now is a great time to teach them about money. Open a dedicated savings account for them to give them a sense of ownership. Kids learn so fast, they'll soon be teaching you a trick or two
7. Start a ‘better times’ fund
In these uncertain times, saving is hard, but if can put little aside, start a special treat account to give yourself something to look forward to. Give it a name like ‘Vacation 2021’ to give your heart a lift when you see it.
8. Make sure you’re insured
While it may be hard enough managing in the short-term, don’t lose sight of your financial future. Now is a good time to check you have the right level of cover, so your family has enough income to maintain the things that are important to all of you - no matter what happens.
Find out more about life insurance.
9. Be kind to yourself
If, thanks to current events, you won’t match your financial ambitions this year, don't be hard on yourself. Times are tough. Saving five percent of your earnings or maxing out your retirement contributions may have to take a backseat. So be realistic with your money goals. Life will get better again.
Originally published 6/3/20.
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