Spring Cleaning: Declutter Your Finances

clean-up-financesAs 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 online casino canada 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?

Organizing for the New Year: 10 Ways to Get Organized Now

It?s the end of January, and the perfect time to check in with those New Year?s Resolutions. Have you been keeping up? If not, here are 10 ways to get organized now for a better 2014.

1) Make Lists

Sometimes the biggest problem is that we don?t actually know what we need to do or how much time we have to do it. We wander through the grocery store, darting up and down aisles, looking for forgotten items. We start steam cleaning the carpets and then realize we forgot to dust, or that our kids’ friends are coming over. All of these absent-minded situations could be avoided with the use of lists.

2) Dispose Ruthlessly

Less is more. And if you want an organized home, less stuff equals more organization. If you?re not using it, you probably don?t need it. Sure, there are the situations when you spend $200 on a drill that you use once every other year, and that?s fine, but make sure you have a storage spot for those kinds of items. There?s no reason for a drill you use once in a blue moon to hog valuable real estate in the house. If it’s a useless kitchen accessory, just taking up space, get rid of it! Gift it, donate it, or pack it up.

3) Give Everything a Place

Which leads us to the next tip: give everything a home. No matter what it is, it needs a place to live. If that?s a water bottle or thermos you take to work everyday, your house slippers, or even your kids? lunchboxes, create a space for these items and make sure they are placed there every day!

4) Go Paperless?

You should be paperless in every single way possible. Maybe you need to have a paper notepad or planner, but you shouldn?t be receiving bank and credit card statements in the mail, and you should opt out of weekly circulars and junk mail.

5) Stop Buying Stuff

Do you need a garlic press, zester, hand grater, box grater, and a food processor? Minimize the items you actually need, and hang on to those with multiple purposes. We would never tell you to get rid of those gray boots that go with everything in your closet! Just think twice before you buy the patent leather ones that only match one pair of pants.

6) Make Your Bed

Remember that thing about giving everything a place? Your duvet/bed comforter has a home, and it?s your bed. But if you leave it crumbled up at the foot of the bed, your room will automatically look messy and disorganized, because it is. The bed is a good place to do tasks like folding laundry, but when it is unmade, the actual task of folding laundry becomes more daunting. In fact, you?re much more likely to lose a stray sock if you?re trying to fold laundry on an unmade bed. Just make your bed, at least a little.

7) Create a Filing System?

There are some things you can?t go completely paperless with, like some coupons, receipts, and statements from ancient student loan companies who can?t get with the program. This is why you need a filing system. Make it accessible but tucked out of sight. If you have a secretary desk, this is a great place to organize these items.

8) Clean Out Your Food Storage?

This means fridge, freezer, pantry, cabinets; clean them out completely! You might not be able to do it all at one time, but if you?re heading out of town for a few days, think of this as a great time to really empty out the contents of your fridge, check expiration dates, and give it a good cleaning. The freezer is sometimes a place where frozen fruits go to die. Avoid this by keeping it clean, free of ice build up, and ready for use and food storage at all times.

9) Cook in Bulk?

A good way to free up time and energy for other pursuits is to spend less time in the kitchen; however, that can be difficult if your other resolution was to eat more healthy homemade meals. Solution? Cook in bulk and utilize your freezer for soups, lasagna, chili, muffins, and other easily frozen items. Keep a list on the fridge of items in the freezer and the dates they were put there. Now your kids can easily feed themselves a healthy homemade frozen meal!

10) Use an App or Planner

Whether you?re in love with apps like Evernote and Flow, or you prefer using a standard planner that fits in your purse or briefcase, it?s important to have a way to keep tasks, thoughts, and ideas organized, instead of letting them run rampant around your brain while you?re busy working on something else. Be sure you have a plan that keeps everything organized in one place!