Spring cleaning means different things to different people. For me it's really a time to organize, purge, and replace the everyday things in my life. I spring clean everything from our food pantry to our finances, and everything in between. Spring cleaning our finances is by far the most involved project I take on because it's among the most important.
Here are three ways I go about spring cleaning my family's finances.
Organize financial records
Every month we receive statements from each of our creditors, financial institutions, along with other important paperwork. I try to put these things away as soon as I can, but as a busy freelance writer, wife, and pet owner there are times things get "put away" even though they aren't exactly organized. So, as a part of my financial spring cleaning, I pull out all of that paperwork and sort through it.
A couple of years ago I found a rebate check we had received that got lost in the shuffle of papers while sorting through everything. Luckily, I found it two weeks before it was set to expire.
Audit our financial accounts
I'm very vigilant when it comes to balancing our bank accounts. It bugs me if I do not know how much money we have down to the penny, so I go through our records and balance our accounts each week. However, I like to do a full audit of our savings and checking accounts at least once a year. This way I cannot only ensure our balances are correct, but I can also see where we are spending our money. Doing this helps me identify problem areas that need to be corrected.
Reassess our budget for warmer months
I keep our family finances on a very strict budget. It covers everything you can think of like bills, entertainment, spending money, and more. While I always have things budgeted months in advance, finances are subject to change without notice, so it's always a work in progress. During my financial spring cleaning I reassess our late spring and summer budget to make sure the numbers are reflecting what we are actually spending. For example, our electricity is costing us about 5% more this year than it did the same time last year, so I was able to tweak our budget to cover the higher cost.
Spring cleaning our finances isn't the easiest thing to do, but it's worth the effort to know things are in order.
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- Banking & Budgeting