Nine ways to freshen up your finances

When it comes to spring cleaning, most people target their homes. And while it’s always a good idea to reduce clutter and clean up, don’t forget to refresh your finances as well. That’s right, it’s time to scrub away bad financial habits and dust off your savings goals.

Check out these nine ways to review and improve your finances:

1. Add up your total debt
If you have multiple credit cards, check the balances on each. Knowing the total amount that you owe across each line of credit can put debt in perspective, and motivate you to eliminate it.

2. …And make a plan to pay it off
Next, take proactive steps to paying off your total debt once and for all. Set a timeline for yourself. Can you be debt-free in six months? A year? Keep it realistic with how much you can reasonably pay, but also push yourself to commit more.

3. Step up monthly payments
The fastest way to become debt-free is to pay more every month. Target the highest-interest debt first. Re-direct money from less expensive debt, and increase your repayment dollars. After it’s paid off, focus on the next most expensive credit card, etc.

4. Review (or make) a budget
Spring symbolizes rebirth, so it’s fitting that you breathe new life into one of the most fundamental tools of personal finance: your budget. Review your previous budget. Is it still relevant? (Re)create expense categories, designate priorities, and set limits for discretionary spending.

5. Slash excessive spending
Do you buy coffee every day? Subscribe to multiple streaming services when you really only use one? It’s okay to allow yourself some personal expenses, but try to cut back on excess.

6. Set financial goals
If you’re determined to buy a home someday, make a plan. Even if it’s a more modest goal like a new computer, you won’t be able to afford it if you don’t start actively saving every month.

7. Contribute more to savings
We all want to increase the balance in our savings account, but it’s easy to get distracted. The best way to ensure that you add more to savings every month is to automate transfers from your checking account.

8. Practice financial peace
Accept that you can’t buy everything you want, and try to be happy with what you have. It’s essential to your peace of mind. If you fight against the limits of your finances, you’ll likely wind up in debt or feel unfulfilled.

9. Kickstart your retirement / college savings account
If you’ve fallen behind on retirement contributions or haven’t yet started a college account for your kids, now is the time to make a plan. Figure out how much you can afford to put away. Even if it’s not as much as you’d like, a smaller sum is better than no sum at all.

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