Just like your home, finances need regular “cleaning” and maintenance. Plan time this spring to focus on financial tasks. A little time spent getting organized and reviewing your financial habits helps keep your financial goals on track.
A good spring cleaning starts with getting organized. Sort through important papers. Decide what you need to keep and what can be shredded or tossed. File your important papers. If you don’t have a home filing system, now is a great time to set one up. With an organized filing system, you can locate important documents quickly and easily when needed. Use UF/IFAS Extension’s Financial Recordkeeping resource to know what to keep and what to toss.
Track Your Spending
Update your spending plan by reviewing your financial goals. Check your financial progress by tracking your spending. Where is your money going? Is your money going toward your goals? Get the whole family involved in recording expenditures for a month. Track expenses by writing down every expenditure on a piece of paper. Alternatively, find a box and place all your receipts in it, being sure to include any money spent even if you didn’t receive a receipt. At the end of the month, review your spending record and look for places where you can cut back. UF/IFAS Extension’s Building a Spending Plan: All Six Steps is a great tool to create or update your spending plan.
Review Your Credit Report
A good credit history saves money through lower interest rates and makes it easier to get credit when needed. Annually, review your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. By law, consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Get free copies of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider rotating through the three bureaus every few months so you can check your credit report throughout the year. Review your credit report for errors and fraudulent activity. Also, review any negative information that could impact your credit and credit score.
Credit scores are based on the information contained in your credit report. You can obtain your credit score from www.myfico.com for a fee. Many credit card companies offer free FICO scores through their online billing websites. Companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame offer free credit score estimates but these sites also include advertisements for financial and other products. Check out UF/IFAS Extension’s You and Your Credit Series.
Make your finances a part of your springtime cleaning routine. A little time spent getting organized and reviewing your spending plan and credit reports will go a long way toward keeping you on track toward your financial goals.