For most folks, spring cleaning involves emptying out your garage of winter supplies, decluttering your home, and throwing out anything unwanted you had lying around; the goal is to welcome in the spring season by clearing away the old and starting fresh. But what if there was a way to “spring clean” your financial situation as well? In honor of this new season, here’s our list of five ways to “spring clean” yourself back into financial health:
1) Carefully review your bills
Take out each and every monthly bill and lay them out on your kitchen or dining room table. Is every expense necessary, or is there something you could cut out without genuinely missing? In terms of mandatory expenses, is there a reduced bundling rate you are missing out on when you pay individually for such things as cable TV, phone, and Internet service? Finally, what about your credit card bills? Do the interest rates seem fair or are they exorbitant?
2) Target at least one company to which you owe money and give them a call
Most folks just assume that there is no wiggle room when it comes to paying a bill, and the money charged is the money that must be paid. But who is to say that a company is unwilling to keep your business at a lower rate? A simple phone call to a company may lead to a negotiation for a lower payment that may surprise you with its effectiveness.
3) Shop around for better service providers
Car, home and medical insurance; phone, cable and Internet providers; banks and credit card companies… The list of consumer options in this country can be quite extensive, and you should never consider yourself without options. If you don’t like what a company is charging you, now is the time to call its competitor to see what they offer.
4) Lower your daily expenses
Now is also the perfect time to “spring clean” your list of daily expenses as well. Is that three dollar cup of coffee you’re paying for each and every day absolutely essential, or can you find some way to substitute it, for instance by making your coffee at home? Are you carpooling or taking as much public transportation as you could? Are your entertainment costs on weekends too high? It is truly the day-to-day spending that adds up to so much over time.
5) Take the next few weeks and keep track of everything you spend
Last, but certainly not least, is to take a few weeks during this period and note each and every dollar you remove from your wallet. Yes, it may sound obsessive, even crazy, but keeping track of these little things is your first step towards financial self-control. You don’t have to do it every day for the rest of your life, all you need to do is thoughtfully consider your costs for a short amount of time, then reflect upon them and adjust your financial expenditures accordingly.
The bottom line is that the concept of “spring cleaning” doesn’t just have to involve your home; to celebrate this seasonal change, and the upbeat mood springtime always brings, you could also work wonders by spring cleaning your finances as well, and setting yourself up for months and even years of financial and emotional prosperity.
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