Getting organized often seems like a daunting, as well as expensive, task. However, just a few quick changes can make your life more efficient, freeing up more time to relax with a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea. LTD’s Product Picks of the Week get you started without breaking your budget.
As spring prepares to be sprung, it’s time to rid our lives of the gnarly winter blues that have accumulated over the last year. Clear out the dust bunnies from under the bed, rotate your closet so the warm weather clothes are near the front, and give the pup a haircut.
All of those things will help you get back into the swing of things and refresh everything. But on top of all that, it’s always good to give your finances a once-over as well. After all, money issues are a source of stress for many people. Here are a few ways to declutter your finances and reduce some of the headaches that can come along with them.
Declutter Your Papers
Let’s face it; it was a terrible winter. No one blames you for choosing to shovel your sidewalk instead of organizing your mail and prioritizing hot cocoa over balancing your checkbook. Now that it’s all behind you, you can focus on organizing your sensitive documents. If all your pay stubs and bills are filling up your junk drawer, go through them and put them all in a centralized place.
It very well may take a few sittings, but once you’ve categorized everything, managing your monthly budget shouldn’t seem like such a chore. Knowing where all your resources are will make paying your monthly bills seamless.
Purge the Extras
When you clean out your refrigerator, you probably pull out anything that looks questionable, wipe the inside of it out, and start with a crisp, clean slate. Indeed, one of the most effective parts of any spring cleaning regimen is purging your home of everything you don’t need or don’t use. Sure, picking up a nasty, moldy orange isn’t exactly a pleasant idea, but doing so is much needed if you want to clean. The same can essentially be said about how you approach your finances.
So start purging. Do you actually use your gym membership? If not, drop it or switch to a cheaper one closer to home that you’ll be more likely to use. Do you watch TV all the time, or did your favorite shows end? If you can swing it, drop it until next season.
Mop up the Rest
Of course, as with any spring cleaning binge, you’ll need to mop up the mess. Look for ways you’ll be able to to cut corners when it comes to your expenses:
- Entertainment?- Do you really need that super mega huge cable package, or can you make do with basic cable? Or better yet, do without and subscribe to Hulu or Netflix instead. You can find most shows online these days anyway, and you’ll probably end up being more productive with less TV to watch.
- Utility bills?- See if your utility companies have a budget billing program, and enroll in it. You’ll end up paying for what you use, but your bill will be the same each month.
- Eating out and groceries?- Get to know your inner?couponer especially when it comes to groceries. You’ll probably be surprised how much money you can save by simply using coupons. There’s nothing ‘extreme’ about it; just subscribe to your local newspaper and start clipping.
Now, more than ever, is a good time to reevaluate your mobile plan too.?T-Mobile?is really shaking things up?in the wireless world?by changing some of its most archaic policies. See if any of these changes can benefit you and your financial situation and consider switching if it works for you and your family. There’s no reason to pay more for something that you can get for less.
Polish Your Credit
Once you’ve pulled all the nastiness out of your budget, you can really make it shine. You should be able to spot some questionable issues that could be resolved. Are you nearing your credit limit on your credit card? Move some money around so you can make a payment to pull the balance away from the limit.
If that’s not an option, consider opening another card to spread the balance out a bit. Contrary to popular belief, it’s better to have two cards nowhere near their limit than it is to have one card that’s maxed out all the time. The idea is to keep your utilization ratio (the credit you’re using vs. how much is available to you) as low as you can. Find a card that offers a special rate on balance transfers to save on interest charges while you’re at it.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop with the dirt on the kitchen floor. Take a look at every aspect of your life, and simplify wherever you can. What’s the most pressing thing on your spring cleaning to-do list?