7 Ways to Clean Up Your Finances
All the baseboards have been washed and the ceiling fans have been dusted, but your spring cleaning isn’t done yet. It’s time to get your financial house spic and span; here are seven items to have on your checklist:
Update Your Budget
If you don’t have one, creating a budget should be your number one priority. If you already have one, review it periodically to account for things that shift as your children enter new phases of their lives. For example, we are spending less on daycare, but more on extracurricular activities. A budget helps you prioritize.
Open an Account With Your Kids
Studies say that money habits are formed by age 7, so it’s crucial to start instilling good financial practices now. Take your kids to the bank to set up their own savings accounts; I recommend a location that has a coin counter so kids can watch their piggy bank savings translate into bills they can then deposit.
Before opening their accounts, I read my kids “Just Saving My Money” by Mercer Mayer, and it helped lay the foundation for what they were doing.
Ensure You Have Adequate Life Insurance
When is the last time you examined your life insurance policies? If you have recently had another child, a change in income, or purchased a new home, it may be time to ensure that you are adequately covered should the unthinkable occur.
Update Your Information on All of Your Accounts
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to find out you never updated your beneficiary on your retirement account.
Make a quick list of any retirement and investment accounts to ensure that all your information is correct. This includes updating your name after getting married.
Consider Multiple Accounts
We’ve probably all heard about the envelope system for ensuring that you are spending within budget in various categories, but there are other, digital ways to achieve the same goal. Additional bank accounts can be especially helpful for large expenses.
This is a great time to set up a Christmas club-type savings account. We budget 1.5 percent of our annual income and set that as the cap for Christmas spending. Whatever your budget is, you can allocate that amount from your paychecks into a special account so you aren’t acquiring credit card debt at the end of the year.
Consider a Home Maintenance Account
After years of diapers and daycare bills, my home maintenance has been neglected. Experts say you should expect to spend between 1-3 percent of the value of your home in repairs each year.
We recently established a new account to handle these expenses. We took 1.5 percent of the value of our home, divided it by 26 pay periods and have that amount transferred into an account each pay period.
Start Saving for College
Set up an Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan to jumpstart college savings for your children. Once it’s in place, it’s easy for friends and family to contribute to your child’s future instead of adding to the growing pile of toys in your playroom.
Be sure to check out Upromise; it's free to join and helps families save for college by doing what you normally do: buying groceries, shopping online, dining out and more. I have earned over $1,000 through Upromise with very little effort on my end.