Start the Spring season off right with a measure of fiscal confidence. It’s a good idea to review where you stand and resolve to do whatever it takes to improve your financial status by the end of 2016.
Consumer finance consultant Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, suggests taking these five steps to Spring clean your financial woes:
Review your spending patterns – With credit card statements in front of you, take a good, hard look at your expense patterns over the course of the year. Too many dinners out? Too much impulse spending? Resolve to do a better job of reining in expenses. Track all your expenditures with an excel spreadsheet-you'll see more clearly where you should be cutting back.
Know your net worth – Add up what you own (home, car, savings, investments, etc.) and subtract what you owe (mortgage, loans, etc.) Use the number as a personal framework for making financial decisions going forward.
Rethink credit card usage – If your credit cards are causing you to spend too freely, or spend more than you would without them, try taking all but one debit and one emergency credit card out. Make spending on non essentials a more conscious decision. Ask your self, "Do i need this?" More than likely you don't.
Create an emergency fund – If you haven’t already, start building a fund that will cover three-to-six months’ worth of essential living expenses in the event you lose your job or cannot work. Try paying into that fund first each month, before you pay your other bills. You can set up and automatic electronic funds transfer into that account to make it easier.
Be sure you're on track for retirement – Re-commit to making retirement savings a priority in your financial plan. Do the math, or check with a financial planner, so you know how much you should be putting away in your IRA, 401(k) or other business retirement plan each month – and make adjustments as needed.