Does Your Budget Need a Little Summer Cleaning?

Written by , June 17, 2013

Does Your Budget Need a Little Summer CleaningWith the arrival of summer, many households will turn to their yearly custom of giving their home a top to bottom cleaning. This summer cleaning tradition is usually something of a chore, but the results are usually appreciated and enjoyed throughout the year. You can extend your summer cleaning tradition to your budget and your personal finances as well.

After all, what’s the essence of summer cleaning? At its core, summer cleaning is about tidying things up, getting rid of unnecessary clutter and making things easier for yourself going forward. These principles make a lot of sense in the personal finance realm.

Here is some banking advice and some tips for doing a little summer cleaning on your budget.

  • Take a Fresh Look. If you haven’t made any changes to your budget recently, use the summer cleaning season as an opportunity to give it a good review. Has your income changed since your last budget review? Have any of your monthly utilities gone up? Are you meeting your goals for retirement savings and building up your emergency fund? Each of these items can change significantly over the course of the year so make sure your current budget plan still makes financial sense.
  • Identify the Dead Weight in Your Budget. As you update your budget, look for expenses that drag you down and make it more difficult for you to reach your long-term financial goals. For example, do you need the premium cable package you may now be subscribing to? Would a cheaper package make more sense?
  • Making Your Budget More Efficient. You should also be looking to make the ongoing administration of your budget more efficient so that you always have a more accurate picture of what’s going on. This might mean signing up for online banking or banking alerts, or new online financial aggregation services that can help you gain an overall picture of your financial health more quickly and easily.
  • Update Your Usernames and Passwords. If you currently use the same usernames or passwords for any of your online accounts, spring is a good time to provide yourself with a little extra security by mixing things up a bit. Use a unique username and password for each account, and make sure that none of them is straightforward or easy to guess.
  • Do Some Actual Cleaning. You probably want to keep your tax records (including all receipts that support your deductions, and another supporting materials) for six years. Beyond that, you should take your spring summer mentality to your filing cabinet and to get rid of all the financial documentation you don’t need to keep. If there are things you can’t seem to part with, even though you don’t need to keep them, consider scanning them and storing the files someplace secure. With all of the other paperwork to be purged, make sure to shred it appropriately.
  • Including these financial cleanups in your normal summer cleaning routine will help you make sure that you’re on top of your personal finances for the coming year.

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