One Week Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Finances

By David Rodriguez/Generations Federal Credit Union Getting ready to do a little spring cleaning around the house? Set the broom and boxes down for an hour or two each day and tidy up your finances while you are at it. These seven tips are sure to help you eliminate the debt mites that exist in your finances and leave them green and squeaky clean:

Sunday – Start the week off by creating “SMART” goals. This is key, as you will not have much inspiration or drive if you cannot see the big picture in the end. It is also helpful to ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound so that they are more vivid and clearly defined.

Monday – With your goals in place, consider downloading a helpful money management app or digital tool that will help you maximize your budget or start one. Apps such as Mint, BillGuard or Checkbook can help you navigate through your budget and make better sense of where your money is going. There are other bells and whistles that come with these programs, such as reminders and notices, and they are very visual.

Tuesday – Kill all the clutter that is draining your wallet every month and cancel all subscriptions and services you don’t use or need anymore. Better yet, take this a step further and call up other services you pay for monthly, like your cell phone, satellite/cable and internet providers and ask for a discount.

Wednesday – Like Tuesday, dedicate this day to lowering other money-draining endeavors. Back when I racked up some significant credit card debt as a naïve student, I overheard someone talking about how they called their credit card carriers and asked them to lower the interest rate. With nothing to lose, I called up the two credit card lenders I had and ended up getting my interest rate slashed in half!

Thursday – Now that you have de-cluttered and removed unnecessary expenses and debt, take a hard look at what is left. Create a simplified plan to eliminate your remaining debt. Utilize the apps I suggested earlier to help you create a plan and/or consider exploring other sites. I really like an Excel template that I found online because of its simplicity (no pretty graphs) and it is easy to use.

Friday – Spend time today seeking feedback or getting some advice on your budget and debt payoff plan. Having a fresh set of eyes on your work may help you discover and rethink some of your strategies. In the end, you may choose to stay on the same course, but it will provide you an opportunity to determine if it is your best move. If you have a spouse or a family, it would be really beneficial that you communicate and agree on the approach together. You may also use a certified financial counselor that can review your plans.

Saturday – Give yourself a shot of liquid capital by having a garage or yard sale. Gather up all that excess clutter around the house and in storage and turn it into cash. If you pay for storage, this may be an opportunity to eliminate another expense and generate a little cash. I have friends that paid months of storage rent on a bed and couch that they will never use again, and the items are fully depreciated in value.

Or, if you don’t want to have a sale, consider giving it to a charity so that you can help someone who will use it and take the tax write-off. Spend a week putting these tips in place and you are almost certain to

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