Spring is in the air across the country and many people are beginning their gardening and participating in the tradition of spring cleaning. It's the time of year when garages get organized, and clutter is removed so that the floors and walls can all get a much needed cleaning after the family has spent months indoors waiting out the cold weather.
Anyone who's ever tended a flower garden knows that flowers require some care and attention to bloom fully. You've got to keep their area free of weed clutter, watered and with just the right amount of sun to really help them thrive. Your finances need similar attention to bloom – and decluttering your financial situation can save you money.
Start with your current debts, since these are likely to be costing you the most money in fees and interest. Get your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com, and see whether or not there are any inaccuracies reported. If so, dispute the problem in writing and get it resolved. A drop in your credit score of just 50 points is enough to cause you to pay more for credit or be the reason you can't get credit at all.
You'll also want to take a close look at your credit card and loan statements to see what interest rates you're paying on each of your accounts. Perhaps you can make a few phone calls and get your interest rates lower; or move balances from higher interest cards to a lower interest card; or pay off high interest credit cards with a lower interest loan. These actions can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars per year, and only take a few minutes of your time to initiate.
Create a plan to pay off your debts as quickly as possible. Debt and the fees associated with debt repayments are like weeds in your financial garden – you can't expect your finances to grow properly when you've got the 'weeds' holding you back.
Tending Your Bank Accounts
Take a close look at your bank accounts. You may have multiple savings and/or checking accounts, a money market or other account and you may find it easier and more manageable to consolidate some of these accounts. Additionally, if your bank accounts are charging you fees, you are paying multiple fees when you could combine accounts and reduce the amount of fees you pay for banking.
After determining how many bank accounts you have, compare what fees each bank is charging you to use the account, as well as benefits associated with having the account. Once you've determined which account or two you plan to keep, you can begin consolidating. Start by switching any automatic payments you have coming out of an account you plan to close to the account you are keeping open, and once you've verified all automatic payments are coming out of the right account – begin closing the ones you've decided to eliminate.
You can further declutter your financial situation by setting up online bill payment for your recurring bills, and eliminating the need to receive bill statements in the mail. Switching to electronic banking uses less paper, and you can balance your accounts online as well. Reduce the need to pay for stamps by paying as much as you can online, and only mailing checks to companies that don't accept online payments. Eliminate late fees by setting up accounts to pay automatically, and you'll never forget to make a payment on time again since it's all set on auto-pilot.
Decluttering your finances works like fertilizer to your financial 'garden'. Taking the time to work out the details each spring will keep you on track for long term financial success.