Spring Clean Your Finances

Spring is a great time of year to clear your house of accumulated junk and make it sparkle. Why not do the same for your finances? Junk can accumulate there, too. In fact, some of your money matters may need a good wipe down this season. It is especially true this year, when many Americans are still recovering from the financial fallout of COVID-19, or maybe wondering how to use the latest round of stimulus checks. Whatever your current situation, a thorough spring-cleaning for your finances is a responsible move this time of year.

Here are some ways to spring clean your finances:

Sweep out your budget

It’s time to shake out the dust in your budget! Review your monthly spending and find ways to cut back. Have you been overdoing the takeout food this year? Buying up more shoes than you can possibly wear? Pare down your budget until it’s looking neat and trim.

Freshen up your W-4

Tax season is prime time for revisiting the withholdings on your W-4. If you received an especially large refund this year, you may want to adjust the amount you withhold. The IRS’s tax withholding estimator  can be a useful tool to help you determine the perfect number.

Deep clean your accounts 

If you’ve switched from one bank or credit union to another, you may have dormant accounts that are still open and may be charging you fees. Or, perhaps they’re holding onto money you’ve forgotten you have! And don’t forget about the 401(k) you may have from an old job. Now may be the time to transfer those funds to your current 401(k).

This spring, do a Marie Kondo on your finances and get rid of any accounts you don’t need any longer. A minimalist approach to your finances will make it easier to manage your accounts. It will also give your savings a greater chance at growth, and help you avoid fees for unused accounts.

Toss out your debt

Get ready to kick that debt for good!

If you’ve been stuck on the debt cycle for too long, make this spring the season you create a plan to break free.

First, trim your budget or consider a side hustle for earning some pocket money, designating these extra funds for your debts. Next, choose a popular debt-busting approach, such as the avalanche method, in which you pay off debts in order from highest interest rate to lowest, or the snowball method, where you start with the smallest debt and then move up your list as each is paid off. Once you’ve chosen your approach, maximize payments to the first debt on your list, making sure not to neglect the minimum monthly payments on your other debts. Before you know it, that debt will be gone!

Dust off your saving habits

Have you been remembering to pay yourself first? Get into the habit of maximizing your savings this spring with a tangible financial goal. You can also make savings an itemized line in your budget. This way, you’ll have funds set aside for this purpose, instead of savings only happening if there’s money left over at the end of the month. Finally, automate your savings by setting up a monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Never forget to pay yourself first again!

Make your investments sparkle

Whether you’re an experienced investor or you’re just getting your feet wet, it’s time for a spring cleaning of your investments! Check if your allocation strategy is still serving you well, whether you need to adjust your diversification and if your retirement accounts are on track for your estimated retirement timeline.

Make your stimulus count

Don’t let your stimulus payment and tax refund blow through your checking account. Instead create a spending plan for the funds that includes paying down debt, allocating some of the money for long-term and short-term savings and possibly investing another portion of the payment. Don’t feel guilty about using the rest of your stimulus check to splurge on a purchase or experience you’ve been wanting for a while now. The money is being distributed with the hopes that it will help stimulate the economy, and the best way to do that is to spend — just don’t go overboard.

Spring is the perfect time to give your finances a thorough cleaning. Follow our tips to make your money matters shine!

Your Turn: How are you spring cleaning your finances this season? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
nerdwallet.com
thebalance.com
doughroller.net

Four Apps To Help You Master Your Spring Cleaning

Our Home logo1. OurHome
If your kids are old enough to do their part in making your home spotlessly clean, you need to download this free app. OurHome makes sharing spring cleaning chores easy! You can assign tasks to your kids, set deadlines for when you want jobs done and reward your kids with points once they’ve completed a chore. Let your kids cash in their points for their reward of choice, like a new toy, a trip to an amusement park or even a cost-free privilege, like choosing the family’s dinner menu for a week.

Sync every family member’s device with your OurHome app to unlock its full power. You’ll be able to send messages to your kids, check up on their progress and set helpful chore reminders.

 

Snupps logo2. Snupps
Spring-cleaning your way through your house gives you the perfect opportunity to take stock of everything you own. The Snupps app makes it easy. You can upload pictures of every item in your home, create virtual shelves on the app and organize your stuff by category. Plus, you can make money while spring cleaning by selling any item you don’t need through the app. It’s like selling your stuff in a virtual yard sale!

 

Home Routines logo3. Home Routines
Do you find it overwhelming to keep track of all you need to clean? Home Routines makes it simple! For a one-time $5 fee, you can download the app and start organizing your chores. Create detailed checklists, assign tasks to days of the week and set alerts to remind you what needs to get done. From there, you’ll be able to easily track your progress. And, if you need more motivation, set the in-app timer and try to beat your own goal.

The app divides your cleaning lists into Focus Zones. You can customize this feature by adding rooms and chores to each zone. Then, choose a different zone for each day or have a zone appear only once a month. You can also set the app to remind you to complete specific tasks or clean certain zones at predetermined times. For example, you can have the app remind you to scrub the counters each night, wash the windows every other week and dust your light fixtures once a month.

 

Do! logo4. Do!
If you like to have a good, old-fashioned, paper to-do list, you’ll love this app. Do! gives you the look and feel of a paper list with realistic paper and pen sound effects. You can easily view your list and even download a widget to your device for seeing the day’s tasks at a glance. Use the app’s color-coding system to keep things organized and check off tasks as you go. The app is free with an in-app purchase and just $1.99 for the premium, ad-free version.

Let these super-convenient apps help you make your home shine this spring.

Your Turn:
What’s your favorite spring cleaning app? Tell us about it in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://en.softonic.com/solutions/what-are-the-best-apps-for-spring-cleaning

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/best-apps-to-help-prepare-for-spring-cleaning-2019/

https://www.lifewire.com/best-house-cleaning-apps-4587232

5 Ways To Spring Clean Your Finances

Young black man sits at computer desk planning his budget on a computer.Q: Spring is here! I’ve cleaned out my house and now I’m ready to take on my finances. I’d love to give them a thorough cleaning, too. Where do I start?

A: It’s wonderful that you’ve decided to clean up your finances. Springtime is months after the holiday squeeze and still a while away from the pricey summer season, making it a prime time for whipping your finances into shape.

So, let’s get cleaning!

1. Dust Off Your New Year’s Resolutions
We get it: New Year’s resolutions get stale as soon as the calendar hits February. But this was the year you were really fired up and ready to conquer the world. Why sell yourself short when your goals are actually within reach?

Use the fresh energy and renewal of spring to revisit the list of resolutions you penned back at the end of 2018. What were your budgeting goals? What were your savings dreams? Have you achieved any of those goals? If not, what’s holding you back?

Take stock of where you are financially and get back on track, moving forward and toward those goals. It’s not too late to make it happen this year!

Do it today: Dig out that paper with your New Year’s resolutions and go through your financial goals one at a time. Did you overreach? Were you irresponsible? Tweak and adjust as necessary, create a new tracking system if the existing one isn’t working, and then get out there and own those goals!

2. Sweep Out Your Monthly Budget
Now that you’ve taken stock of your resolutions, take a good look at your monthly budget.

Review your spending habits of the last few months. What are your weak spots? Where can you cut back? Have you been alotting too much money for one category and not enough for another? It’s time to take stock!

Do it today: Review your monthly budget and choose one area to trim. Create concrete and realistic steps to make that happen. For instance, try the money envelope system to keep you on track, or stick to cash-only so you don’t slip up. Your budget will thank you!

3. Freshen Up Your W-4
You might be celebrating a generous tax return this year, but that only means the government has been handling some of your money all year long instead of it earning more for you. It’s almost like giving the government an interest-free loan! You could have used those funds to start investing, add to an existing emergency fund, launch a business or to save for your dream summer getaway.

Take a closer look at your W-4 so you don’t overpay in taxes again this year.

Do it today: Spend some time researching your best withholding options or ask your accountant to help you work out the numbers. Adjust your W-4 accordingly and submit it to the payroll specialists at your workplace.

4. Pile Up Your Savings
Once you’re cutting down on your spending habits and taking home a larger check each payday, why not use the extra money to bump up your savings? You can add to an existing fund, build a new one, open a Savings Certificate or start investing. You have many great options!

Speak to an Advantage One employee today to find out about our fantastic savings options.

Do it today: After choosing a savings option, stop by [credit union] to set up a direct deposit. Each month, your money will be automatically transferred from your checking account to your new account. It’s the ultimate in set-it-and-forget-it!

5. Toss Your Debt
This spring, while you try on old, scratchy sweaters and make piles of junk to toss in the trash or sell for cash, why not get rid of your debt, too?

Debt is ugly on you. It holds you back from moving forward, keeps you in a spending trap that only gets stronger with time and clings to you like caked-on mud. Wash it all off this spring with an actionable plan to get rid of that debt for good!

Do it today: We know that paying down debt is easier said than done. But, you can do it! All you need is a plan. Review your debts and pick one to pay off first. It can be the debt with the smallest amount of total owed or the one with the steepest interest rate. Find a way to double down on your payments toward that debt. You can do it by taking on a side hustle, seeking a promotion at work or trimming existing expenses. After you’ve paid down this debt, move onto the next one. Accelerate its payoff by applying the total payment amount from your first debt to the new one – in addition to the regular payment you were making on it. Keep going until they’re all gone. It might take until next spring, but eventually, you’ll kick all of your debt to the curb!

Spring is here—it’s time to freshen up your finances so they’ll be in tip-top shape for summer!

Your Turn:
How do you clean out your finances in the spring? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.thebalance.com/spring-clean-your-finances-2385567

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/13-tips-for-spring-cleaning-your-finances/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T065-C032-S014-3-ways-to-spring-clean-your-finances.html

Green Spring Cleaning Tips

Spruce up your home in an eco-friendly way

It’s that time of year againspring cleaning…everyone is busting out their cleaning supplies and partaking in the springtime spruce up. Rather than spending a bunch of time and money on materials and methods that harm the world around us, utilize these tips to be more environmentally-conscious and even improve your environment.

Dusting
One simple suggestion is the tip that keeps on tipping — use vinegar. Vinegar is the primary green cleaning solution for multiple uses. Mix as few tablespoons of vinegar in a bowl of water, soak a dishrag, wring it out and go to town on any surface. The solution not only cleans off present dust, but also sticks around to help repel future dust.

Carpet Cleaning
Use the same ingredients in a steam cleaner (a borrowed one, if you want to save money) to deep clean your rugs. Fill the compartment with equal parts water and vinegar, then use the cleaner as directed and rinse with plain water. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it disappears as the carpet dries.

Bathrooms
Save money by purchasing borax at the supermarket instead of the multitude of commercial cleaners out there. Mix it with water and lemon juice and then start cleaning. But you’ll have to be more patient — because although it is more healthful, it doesn’t cut through the grit as quickly as typical cleaners with chemicals, but eventually the job is done just as well.

Freezers
Don’t forget about ridding your refrigerator of those stinky old leftovers. While you’re at it, do the freezer, too. To avoid the freezer’s contents thawing out and going bad while you are cleaning, simply remember to plan ahead. Take an inventory of what’s in your freezer and list out a weekly menu utilizing the frozen food. Then clean out the fridge/freezer with the same solution you used to dust. Once your spring cleaning is done, go shopping for fresh food to refill your appliance.

Tapestries and Bedding
Remove your curtains and strip the beds, then wash them on delicate with an eco-friendly, high-efficiency (or “honest”) detergent. Afterward, take advantage of that springtime weather and hang them outdoors to dry.

Air Filters
Install a living air filter in the form of houseplants. Not only do they add decor to your home, they also efficiently clean the interior air. To properly clean your home’s air, the recommended number of plants is between 15-18 Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants or peace lilies (in a 6-8-inch diameter container) for an 1,800-square-foot home. That might sound like a lot, but you can be creative with arrangements and also place more in rooms where you spend the most time.

Recycle Clutter
If you have extra items that you no longer use, or clothes that don’t fit, for example, put them aside for a yard sale or box them up for Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You can also list things on Craigslist or other social media for sale or giveaway.

If you have clothing items that are a little more-than-gently used, turn them into rags for dusting. This is much more eco-friendly than wasting single-use paper towels for cleaning.

Remember that these tips apply any time of year, not just in the springtime. Use these suggestions and start living more closely to nature all year round.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.