How to Give Your Finances a Spring Clean

by Sean Bryant on May 10, 2012

Spring-cleaning is not just for your house. By cleaning up your finances, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and make finance management easier throughout the year.

Organize and Verify

Look through your bank statements and all the line items on your bills including your credit card and utility bills. Mistakes and erroneous charges could be costing you money, but if you don’t check the details, you won’t be able to get that cash back.

Once you’ve confirmed your bills and accounts are in order, start organizing your financial papers. If you keep your papers grouped by type and in date order, it will be easier for you to keep track of your money and bills.

Start Budgeting

Create a realistic budget. It’s tempting to underestimate costs when making a budget, so refer to your bank statements and bills when making it to avoid mistakes. An inaccurate budget won’t help you cut costs or save money.

Go over your budget with a fine-toothed comb. You can use your budget to pinpoint where you’re overspending. For example, if you’re spending more on takeout food than groceries, you’ll want to cut back on your restaurant trips, as takeout drives up your food costs.

Leave an emergency slot in your budget. It’s near impossible to account for every expense, so if you budget for the unexpected, you’ll be better prepared. Put emergency reserve money in your savings account to make the money work for you while you’re not using it.

Shop Around

Deals can be had on just about everything, from your groceries to your credit cards. If you’re not looking at sale ads or clipping coupons, get into the habit. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars over the year by comparison shopping, clipping coupons and following sales.

While there’s no such thing as a Money Super Market you can make your money stretch further when you do shop. Avoid making impulse purchases even if the item is on sale. Ask yourself if you really need it before you buy to avoid wasting money.

Look around for a credit card transfer deal if you’ve got credit card debt. If you can transfer balances from your current cards to a card with a lower interest rate, you’ll save on the interest charges. Make sure you check all the terms of a transfer offer before agreeing, as transfer balance fees may negate your savings.

Lower Energy Costs

You can slash gas and electric costs by conserving energy. Insulating your home can save you thousands of dollars on your heating bills over time. Don’t forget small, inexpensive conservation methods as well, such as replacing your old light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

Be Creative

Creativity can save you cash. Think of ways to make money you’ve never considered before. Instead of trashing stuff you don’t want, consider having a yard sale. Check your local unclaimed property department to see if you’ve got money you didn’t know about.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.
  • Nothing makes you get organized like applying for a mortgage loan, lol. I am more on top of my accounts now than I had been in a couple of years. Now to tackle the real spring cleaning since the financial aspects are tidied up…

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