Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

Brent Pittman —  03/18/2013

Spring is upon us. The days are longer. The beaches and mountains are calling.

Cough, Cough. What is all that dust around my house? Seems the long days of being in doors has created quite a mess. Good thing someone invented a thing called spring cleaning.

Origins of Spring Cleaning

There is no definitive answer, but many ancient cultures celebrate spring cleaning.

In preparation for Passover, the Jewish culture scours the house to rid the house of leaved bread. In China there is also a cleaning at the end of the Chinese New Year to get rid of any bad luck and misfortune. Persians (modern Iran) also have a similar practice for Nowruz called Khouneh Tekouni literally meaning “shaking the house”.

No matter what the origin is. It’s a great idea to rid the house of dust, clutter, cob webs, and start the spring off on the right foot. It leaves more time to play outside too!

While you are dusting the shelves, why not give your finances a bit of spring cleaning too?

Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

These are a few tips on how to spring clean your finances:

1. Reclaim Your Desk- If you’re going to be organized with money, start with your desk and/or area you pay bills. Time to file that stack of “important” papers and shred others.

So just what do you need to keep and what to shred? Keep tax info for the past 3-7 years just in case you get audited.  See the IRS website for more details and guidelines.

There is no need to keep your paper bank and retirement statements, you’re most recent one should do. If you want to keep them, then pull out the ole’ scanner. This would be a perfect time to sign up for electronic statements and go “paperless” See The Motley Fool for more tips on your mound of paperwork.

2. Go Digital- Sign up for electronic statements, automate your monthly reoccurring bills like utilities, and store your statements digitally in the cloud (Dropbox or Evernote) or backup with an external hard drive. If you haven’t backed up your computer lately, then stop and do it now.

3. Check Your (Free) Credit Reports- – Time to check your credit report for errors or mistakes. Click this for your FREE Credit report. Check to make sure any debt you have is really your debt and that those monkeys in the cubicles posted your checks on time. This is free yearly and don’t give out any credit card info or sign up for any monitoring services.

4. Update Your Will- Any changes in the past year? Moved states? Then you need a state specific will. Had kids? Who’s going to take care of them? Update or create your will. Made a ton of money? Then you might consider setting up a trust and need to consult an estate planner.

5. Get the Best Rates- Are you getting the best rates on your insurance, checking and savings accounts, mortgage (Great time to refinance!) credit cards, etc? Get some quotes.

6. Update Your Beneficiaries- What’s this? It’s who is going to get your assets if you die. Check to make sure everything is in agreement with your updated will. IRA, 401K (403b), Life Insurance, Investments…etc.

7. Whatever Else- We all have our personal financial cobwebs that need to be cleaned. Stop procrastinating. Be an adult. Do it. And enjoy your spring.

Any spring cleaning tips? Start your financial spring cleaning this weekend. 

Photo Credit  hans s (Creative Commons)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.