This year I’m excited to be partnering with Discover to share many of the great programs they offer consumers. All opinions are my own.
It’s finally spring! Not only am I looking forward to warmer weather, but I’m also itching to start my spring cleaning.
This is the time of year when I clean out the kids’ closets, the kitchen cabinets, our garage, and any other place in my home that collects random items throughout the year.
In addition to my annual spring cleaning, this year I’m doing a little financial spring cleaning too.
After spending the last few weeks buried in paperwork for our taxes, I’ve decided that in 2016 I’m going to be a better CFO for our family.
Here are five ways I’m cleaning up our finances this spring.
I tend to save every receipt, business and personal. But chances are I’m not going to need a receipt from the grocery store in a month and definitely not in six months.
I’m going through my bins of receipts and only keeping the ones that are important for record keeping and business.
I’m also making sure that all my bills are signed up for e-delivery and that I can set as many to auto pay as I can. The less bills I have to personally pay every month, the more likely I am to get it done.
Monitor your credit
My husband has a very common name. So common that other people’s bad debt shows up on his credit report every year. We’ve gotten into the habit of checking our report regularly to make sure it is accurate and our credit score stays high.
Discover provides cardmembers their FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements. A good credit score is very important if you are planning on buying or refinancing your home.
We have been able to secure ridiculously low mortgage rates with our last three homes because of our great credit score.
Double check current bills
Many of our bills are set to auto pay. I spend almost no time looking them over every month. I’m now getting into the habit of looking over all the charges and making sure they are legitimate.
Also, remember that free trial you signed up for or the extra service you added to your existing bill? Are you using them? Are they totally necessary? Every few months I try to conduct a financial audit to make sure we’re actually using the services we are paying for on a regular basis.
Many of these services cost $10 a month or less, but if you aren’t using them you are throwing that money away!
Negotiate for cheaper services
Did you know that things like cable, cell phones and subscriptions are negotiable? When your contract is up, it is a great time to call your providers and negotiate lower rates.
You can find out how we cut our monthly bills (without spending tons of time) here.
Give yourself a financial tune up
The holidays are over, but many people are still caught up in that holiday spending frenzy. If you don’t have a plan for your money every month it will disappear and the next thing you know you will be struggling to pay your bills.
If you haven’t already, create a budget for 2016. I look at my credit card summary from the end of the previous year to find areas where we can cut and also to get a better idea of how we are spending our money.
Make saving automatic every month. It is much easier to build your savings when the money comes out automatically every month. You can set this up with your bank or even with your place of employment. This will allow you to build your savings without even thinking about it.
Challenge yourself to make three changes that will positively affect your financial future in 2016. This could be participating in your company’s contribution matching, making more meals at home, having a yard sale to get rid of unwanted stuff, shopping at the thrift store, or starting a vacation fund.
Make sure you are getting cash back on the items you buy every day. Rewards credit card like the Discover it® Chrome card gives you cash back to put toward future purchases. With the Discover it Chrome card, you can earn 2% cash back at gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases. I love it when I can double up my savings by finding great deals and getting cash back too!
Spring cleaning is not only for your home, it is for your finances too. This year I’ve committed to spend a half hour each week de-cluttering our finances, it doesn’t always take that long, but it keeps us on track financially and helps us reach our financial goals.