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It finally feels like spring is in the air and while you may be thinking about sprucing up your house with a spring clean, it may also be worth thinking about giving your finances a going over too
Spring has finally arrived and it’s time to start looking forward to warmer days, lighter nights and hopefully plenty of lovely summer sunshine. It’s also a time of year when people like to have a bit of a clean out, dust away the cobwebs and prepare for the new seasons ahead. Whilst planning a spring clean though, it might be worth thinking about giving your finances a bit of a spring clean too.
While there are plenty of things to do for free in the summer months there are also lots of activities that cost – including the biggie – the all important summer holiday. Giving your finances a spring clean now will hopefully provide some extra cash and peace of mind over the coming months.
1. Give your Bank account a thorough Sweeping
Not checking my bank account daily is certainly something I’m guilty of – despite writing about money and having online banking too. Taking a few hours to sit down and really look closely at all of your transactions from the last few months can be really beneficial, especially if it’s something you don’t usually do on a regular basis.
Doing this should help you flag up any issues such as:
- Transactions you don’t recognize – online scams are so common these days, make sure your can identify were all your money has gone.
- Direct Debits you no longer use – are you still using the gym you signed up for in January? If not, get it cancelled.
- Account Fees – Many current accounts nowadays have fees in return for cashback, increased interest or other benefits. Make sure you are still paying in the minimum to make these fees worthwhile and that you do get value for what they are offering.
You could also consider switching bank accounts as part of your financial spring clean – if interest rates are low or you feel your bank account could be serving you better then it’s always worth considering a switch, often these have incentives and should be easy be easy to do with the seven day switching service.
2. Rinse Your Online Accounts
Another thing I’m guilty of is having more online accounts, apps and money makers on the go than you can shake a stick at. I always say I’ll check each one on the first of the month to see if there’s anything in there but seldom actually end up sticking to this.
Often when I do end up checking though, I’m pleasantly surprised. This could be a great way to find some extra cash you didn’t know you had, especially if your looking for some extra money for an upcoming summer holiday or to keep the kids entertained over Easter.
Places to check:
- Cashback accounts such as Topcashback and Quidco – as cashback can often take weeks or even months to come through, it’s often easy to forget about it all together.
- Shopping Apps such as Checkoutsmart – as there is a fee for cashing out before £20 I often let mine build up over a few months before requesting payout
- Survey Sites I use a lot of survey sites, my favourites being, Swagbucks, Branded Surveys, One Poll, Viewsbankand Prolific Academic (which I have written about here) plus a whole load more. Surveys are something I tend to dip in and out of out and as they don’t always credit immediately, sometimes it’s good to take an hour or so to look through all of the sites I use to see if I can cash out anywhere.
- Any other accounts you may have such as old savings accounts, ISA’s and paypal accounts.
3. Dust off those receipts and get ready for the tax man
If you’re self employed then you will know that April 5th is the end of the tax year and that means getting ready to file your tax return. Every year I say that I’m going to file mine earlier (not two days before the January deadline!) and hopefully this year I’ll actually manage it.
Since I’ve started blogging full time I’ve been using Quickbooks which I’m hoping will make the process easier – I’m terrible with numbers so for me, using a paid service for some peace of mind is worth every penny.
Some tips to get things in order
- Make sure all documents, receipts and invoices relating to the year are filed away together in a safe place at year end. You will really thank yourself later.
- It’s so easy to continually put off filing your return – but the sooner you do it the happier you’ll feel and the less stress and anxiety it should cause
- Filling early gives you time to find anything you might be missing – if you’ve misplaced something there’s not a mad panic or rush to try and find it right before the deadline.
4. Blitz Your Budget
Many of us start the year with the best intentions of doing better with our finances – but January is often a tough month money wise and it can be so easy to fall at the first hurdle. Spring is a time of new beginnings and may well be the perfect time to breath new life into your budget.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or implementing old ideas, here are my top tips for starting a budget as part of your spring clean – and sticking to it.
- Budgeting is often a lot more successful when it’s goal oriented – if there’s something you’re aiming for – a holiday ,paying off debt, a house deposit – sitting down and working out what you want to do with your money can be a real motivator.
- If you’re new to budgeting try tackling one are area at time. Once you feel that area is going well trying adding another and another until you’re completely confident in budgeting everything.
- Budgeting envelopes are also a great way to go – See this post from Cass at Diary of a Frugal family for more info.
5. Freshen Up your Utility Bills
It’s always worth taking some time to look through your utility bills and seeing if you could be getting a better deal elsewhere, especially if any introductory offers have recently ended. We recently renewed our car insurance and with some savvy shopping and cashback managed to get it down to just £160 for the year – a far cry from the £3.5k a year my husband was paying when he first got a car aged 18!
- If you’re short on time try this hack for haggling with Sky without even picking up the phone
- Never Auto renew insurances – even if you want to stay with the same company ring them – they should be able to give you a better than what they quote when writing to you. Compare deals elsewhere beforehand so you have a point of reference
- Look out for incentives – for example buying insurance through compare the market gives you 2 for 1 cinema tickets for a year so we always do our house insurance with them. However we didn’t need this twice so opted for Cashback on our car insurance – well worth it at £50 back!
Will you be giving your finances a Spring Clean this year?