Are you feeling financially bloated after the holidays? Have you spent too much on shopping online while cooped up indoors during the cold weather? Do you feel the need to have a fresh financial start to the spring season? Look no further, I have what you need! Pick a project below and kick off your spring feeling lighter with your finances.
Lose a few pounds – quickly and easily!
Dig in to those file drawers and start purging! Find paper that you no longer need and get it into a bag or box for the shredder. Don’t get paralyzed by the fear of “what if I need this someday?” Here are some guidelines:
- Need it for taxes? Keep it with that year’s tax information.
- Need it to prove purchase? Keep it in case you need it for insurance or a warranty.
- Need it to show investment cost basis? Keep until you sell the investment and file the taxes.
- How hard would it be to get this document again if needed? Let this be your guide. Most financial institutions can reproduce statements in the event you needed one.
- Have I referenced this recipe/article/other information in the past year? If not, purge it.
Get rid of the weeds!
Want to lose even more weight and make your “garden” of a home look great? Pull out some trash bags and start to declutter. You can start small – like a junk drawer or small closet. Or, you can start big – sort through all your clothes and get rid of half of them. You know there are things in the closet that no longer fit or are so ratty you don’t wear them anymore. Put on your big girl panties and get rid of the nostalgia clothes! You can turn this into a money-making effort, too:
- Donate your unneeded items to charity for a tax deduction. (Admittedly, this is more challenging now with the new tax law.)
- Take your clothes or other items to a thrift or consignment shop to sell.
- Post those vintage items on eBay for sale.
- Or post them more locally on Craigslist.
- Just want to be rid of it? Use Freecycle, instead.
Eliminate the toxins!
What is that thing you spend money on mindlessly? What is the leak in your budget? Take these steps to eliminate the toxic spending:
- Come on, you know what you blow money on. Stop it. For a week, for a month, for a year.
- Cut back. Determine how much you are spending on the “toxin,” and vow to cut it by ten percent, or maybe twenty. Do I hear fifty percent?
- Be creative. How can you get your fix in a cheaper way? Is your toxin expensive morning coffee on the way to work? Fix your own at home. Even with some fancy flavored creamer, you will be ahead of the game, cost-wise.
Plant some green to clear the air!
If you are already pretty streamlined and have no bad money habits, consider implementing a savings upgrade:
- Start your emergency fund if you don’t have one. If you do, reset the target to a higher amount and level up your savings.
- Increase your employer retirement plan savings. At least up to the amount your employer matches but creep it up one or two percent to give your savings a boost.
- Already saving enough for retirement? Start a college savings plan for the kids. Set it up on autodraft and away you go!
Fast away those impurities!
Need something a bit more dramatic? Engage in a spending fast. You can do this for any length of time, but I suggest you consider a No-Spend Month. Plan ahead so that you are not tempted to cheat. Choose from the following:
- Beginner fast – no spending other than food to eat and gas for your vehicle.
- Hard core fast – no spending, period. You must eat from what is in your pantry and find alternate transportation.
- In between – create your own rules to reflect the complexities of your particular situation.
Whichever method of financial fast you choose, lay down the rules at the beginning and commit!
Or just be lazy and read about decluttering and simplifying instead!
Here are some favorites of mine:
- Marie Kondo – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Francine Jay – The Joy of Less
- Joshua Becker – The More of Less
- Leo Babauta – The Power of Less
Pick one project, or do them all – either way, you will feel fresher, lighter, and greener for the spring!
*This article was originally published in WNC Woman Magazine.
What do you like to do in the spring to tidy up your finances? Share your ideas.