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Be Wise With Money
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5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Budget This Spring
May 31, 2016
Spring's fresh air and flowers provide us with reawakened senses and opportunities for change. It's also the time of year when the tradition of spring cleaning is in full swing.
As you deep-dive into your seasonal cleaning duties, consider doing some financial spring cleaning by sprucing up your budget.
Here are some tips to help you clean up your spending habits and give your budget a fresh start:
1. Wipe away unnecessary expenses.
There's not much you can do about your fixed expenses – mortgage or rent, car payments, etc. But you can cut unnecessary expenses by taking a good look at your variable and discretionary costs.
Try these money-saving tricks to cut down on your variable expenses:
- Reduce electricity usage to lower your utility bill.
- Shop for groceries in bulk or clip coupons.
- Bike instead of drive to save on gas.
- Reduce cable and internet subscriptions.As for your discretionary expenses – everything else you purchase – start by asking yourself "Do I really need this?" Think of it this way: Eating lunch out four days a week at just $8 a meal adds up to $1,664 a year!
2. Uncover money-saving discounts.
Want to find more dollars in your budget? Think of things you already purchase and find ways you could spend less on them.
- Take advantage of sales and coupons – they're just about everywhere! These days there's even coupon apps you can download like Groupon and RetailMeNot that can help you find some great deals.
- Buy needed items when they're on sale, not just when you've run out.
3. Tidy up your paperwork.
Have you accumulated piles of papers over the winter months? It's time to throw out the old and get organized.
- Weed through unnecessary documents and shred old statements and receipts.
- Organize files to get a more accurate picture of your monthly spending.
- Choose the paperless option for monthly bills.
4. Mop up any credit messes.
If you've fallen on hard times, your credit score may have taken some of the blow. But there are some steps you can take to work that number back onto good-standing ground.
- Bring all past-due accounts current.
- Consider consolidating credit card debt to the card with the lowest interest rate.
- Set up accounts with automatic payment to avoid late fees.
- Get a copy of your credit report. Look over it in detail and fix or dispute any errors you see.What's most important is to stay on top of your spending. By reducing the amount of debt you have, your credit score can definitely be on the mend.
5. Reorganize your money management
By properly managing your money, you can get your budget spick and span. If you don’t already use one, consider a personal money management software program such as Quicken to:
- Help set a budget and keep yourself accountable for your spending.
- Categorize expenses so you know exactly where you're spending.
- Create monthly reports to keep on track and make adjustments where needed.
Budgeting and personal finance apps can also help make money management less stressful. Many of them, like the free Mint.com personal finance app, make it easy to link your accounts so you can keep track of everything on the go.
Have questions about sprucing up your budget this spring? Contact your local Thrivent Financial representative to learn even more ways to sharpen your money management skills.
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