How to keep your finances on track
When it comes to your finances, it’s a good idea to check in on your progress periodically, to see if any adjustments to your budget or changes in your habits are necessary. Even if you’ve set your budget for the year, you may learn a new strategy or have a priority come up suddenly that causes you to shift your thinking.
Here are ways to take stock of your finances, and ensure they’re still on track.
1. Review your budget quarterly
Now that you’re a few months into the year, take the time to review whether you’ve kept your budget on track for the year. What’s worked well and what hasn’t? Are there adjustments you need to make? Are you spending more than you intended? Have you had any unexpected expenses that require a shift in your strategy?
Double check your goals to see how you’re progressing toward them. Do you have as much money in your emergency savings as you want? Is enough money going towards your retirement savings accounts as needed?
2. Identify and remove any unnecessary expenses
With so many options for subscription services, chances are you’re paying for things you no longer use. Look at your bank and credit card statements to identify regular charges for items that aren’t necessary. Maybe you signed up for a streaming service you never watch, or a digital publication you don’t read.
Be honest with yourself about these subscriptions. If you’ve had a gym membership for years and only go once or twice a month, it probably isn’t worth a monthly fee. If you make regular use of it, however, then it might be more worthwhile.
Keep only recurring expenses you actually use, no matter how little they cost. While individually they may seem like small amounts, those regular expenses add up over time.
3. Set up a separate account for extra spending
If you have one account that your regular expenses and your extra expenses come out of, it can be easy to lose track of how much money is in that account. Keep separate accounts, one for your regular expenses and one for those that are discretionary.
If you like, you can have more bank accounts to further keep track of your expenses, but at the very least have two separate accounts for your spending.
4. Use reminders to keep track of due dates
Technology has made it much easier to keep track of looming payment deadlines. Make a list of your bills and their payment dates. Set up a way to keep track of and alert you to upcoming deadlines. This can be a calendar notification, a smartphone app, an agenda or even a wall calendar. Take a look at the app every so often so you can see how your payments are spaced out, and determine if you need to shift any payment due dates.
5. Clean up your paperwork
You don’t need to hold onto all your receipts for decades. Some you can get rid of right away, while those that are claimed on your taxes have to be held onto for a certain time period. Once that period has passed, shred them and get rid of them. Where possible, sign up for online billing and receipts, so you don’t have to worry about paper cluttering up your office.
It’s a great idea to spring clean your finances, to ensure you’re on track for your budget and aren’t unnecessarily spending money.