Spring Cleaning Your Financial Closet

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Spring is a time of renewal, which means there’s no better time than now to dust off your personal budget, dig the change out from under your sofa, and clean the cobwebs off your savings plan.

So how do you get started?

Begin by reviewing your income and expenses for the past several months. You can set a budget and track your goals.

Review all cash, checks, and credit card transactions. This will also help you identify the majority of your spending. Keep in mind that credit card expenditures do count. You will have to pay expenses—ideally, in full—when the bill arrives.

The hardest part is tracking your cash outlays for your daily coffee and lunch at work. You can also track your ATM withdrawals; it is helpful to know how you spend your cash.

Once you have your income and expenses down, you can see where you are spending your money. You may be surprised to find out you are spending more than you realized. Once you budget you can’t hide the fact that you spend $20 a week on Starbucks’ coffees.

Armed with knowledge about what you’re spending your income on, you can begin to make lifestyle choices that help reduce your spending on a regular basis.

The difference between your income and your expenses (assuming the first number is bigger) should be considered your “opportunity money.” This money can be used for additional investments and savings and can help speed your path to financial prosperity.

Once you’re done cleaning your financial closet, you may be ready for a spring makeover of your finances.

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