Many of you have a spring cleaning ritual. It is the time of the year when you wash the windows, air out the bedding and declutter. However, have you ever thought about checking your budget?
That may sound crazy, but it is really is the perfect time of the year to really take a good look at your budget. We’ve got some ideas of what to do to spring clean your very own budget!
Before you get started, make sure you have a workable budget with our free budget printable!
SPRING CLEANING YOUR BUDGET
1. Check your envelopes
Now would be a good time to make sure that your envelopes have the right amount allocated to them. Take a look at your spending and determine if you need to make adjustments (up or down). This way, your envelopes contain the right amount of cash in them. Even if you don’t use cash, you should do this with your virtual envelope system as well.
You will also need to make sure that you don’t need to add new envelopes. Perhaps you find that you always go to your dining out envelope to get money for family fun. Why not make a separate envelope JUST for family fun? That way, have envelopes with a designated task and aren’t taking from one to fund another.
Read more: Why you must use a cash envelope system
2. Clean up your bills
Take a look at your spending. Are you paying for things you don’t need? Sometimes, we get so used to paying for things that we just ignore them and don’t think much about it.
For instance, you might not be ready to cut cable completely. However, are you paying for channels you really don’t watch? Go through all of your bills and make sure you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t really use.
3. Go looking for discounts
The idea of your budget is to make it give away as little of your money as possible — and rightfully so. Look back on your spending. There may be items which may offer you a discount.
Believe it or not, there are many utilities which will offer discounts to customers. You just have to know how to do it. You can take the time to research what others pay and call each company and try to negotiate your rates.
Or, if you don’t want to do this yourself, you can try a service such as BillCutterz. This is a really cool site because they take your bills and negotiate for you. The way you pay them is simple. If they find a discount for you, the cost is split between them. So, if you would save $10 a month, they get $5 of that sent to them.
This is a great option for someone who wants to cut bills but just doesn’t have the time to do it. Learn more about BillCutterz HERE.
Interesting: How you can easily lower your utility costs
4. Establish New Goals
Goals are a great tool that we often use in many areas of life, but what about budgeting? The truth is, you might already be doing it and not realize it.
Goals could be as simple as paying down that one credit card. It might be going on a dream vacation. Perhaps it is buying the car without a loan or even paying for the first year of college tuition.
Whatever your goal, make sure you write it down. That instantly solidifies the goal and then, you can place it somewhere you see it. Every. Single. Day.
The more you see the goal, the more you remember what you want to achieve and might recall that when considering an impulse purchase.
5. Lower your grocery bill
Paying less for your groceries can significantly impact your budget. I learned that Aldi was an great place to shop and it really slashed my grocery budget! By using this store to get most of our food, I was able to drop our grocery spending by more than $200 a month!
If Aldi is not an option, take the time to learn how to shop the sales and to use coupons to help lower the amount you spend on food for your family.
6. Transfer credit cards to lower rates
Now is the perfect time to look into getting a card with a 0% interest rate. Transfer your balances to the new card to eliminate paying interest on your balance, which might help you pay it down much more quickly.
The only caution is to watch the introductory period. You need to pay it in full or transfer it again before the period lapses. Credit.com is an excellent resource to help you determine which card is the best option for you.
7. Lower your cell phone bill
Most people think that they are stuck paying whatever their wireless provider tells them to pay. That is true — for the most part. However, you might be able to negotiate a lower rate or may want to even consider changing providers completely
8. Automate your savings
If actually saving money is difficult for you, you are not alone. Many people do not have the discipline needed to save money every month. That is where automation is helpful.
You can see if your employer allows for your check to be direct deposited into multiple accounts. If so, have them deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into savings. If that is not an option, set up an automated transfer out of your checking account into your savings account each month.
Once you do that, you will need to adjust the spending in your budget. Even saving just $25 a paycheck is better than nothing and you’ll be surprised at how much you do not miss the money.
Read more: Why you must automate your savings
9. Review your insurance
Take a good look at not only your auto insurance but also your homeowner’s and life insurance.
Do some comparison shopping to make sure you are getting a good rate. If your insurance is from different providers, check to see if any of them offer a bundle discount if you have all of them under one roof.
If you’ve built up your emergency fund, you might even be able to just raise the deductible and lower your monthly out of pocket cost and actually save more than the deductible costs. Simply increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000 could save you a LOT of money on your monthly costs.
In addition, if you do not yet have life insurance, this is the time of the year to consider purchasing it. It isn’t for you – it is for your family.
Read more: Why You Need Life Insurance
Taking the time to review your budget is wise, but really looking at it is something we don’t always do. Just schedule this each year with your spring cleaning schedule and you’ll never forget to do it again!