Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 3

by Stacy Tharp 13. May 2013

Coins in Dustpan

So you've made it to part 3 of the Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge! (Or if you are new to the challenge, go to Part 1 and Part 2.) We're on the final stretch and the finish line is in sight! Here we go...

Day 5: Revisit Your Budget

If you had a successful day 4, day 5 is going to be a good one for you! You’ve saved yourself some money; now let’s see how that extra cash can best be used. Hopefully you already have a budget of some sort in place and track where your money is going. If not, you can set this up quickly and easily using a personal finance manager such as Mariner360.

Now that that’s settled, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions. How closely are you able to stick to your budget? If you often go over the amount of money you have allocated for personal spending, take a look at the things that you’ve purchased over the past few weeks. Could you cut back on your Starbucks trips by making coffee at home? How often to do you eat meals out? If you feel that you are fairly responsible with your money but have trouble staying below your limit, go ahead and give yourself a little bit more with the money you’ve saved from day 4.

If you have a lot of debt, use this money to help pay it off, or if your emergency savings account isn’t fully funded with 3-6 months of income, add more there.

Day 6: Check Your Credit Reports

You can do this for free once a year thanks to the good ol’ Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), so take advantage! Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request your free copies – yes, copIES. FACTA entitles you to an annual free copy of your credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus – Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. You never know which credit bureau creditors are going to use, so it’s important that all three are accurate.

Checking your credit reports regularly is an important (and easy) measure to take in order to detect identity theft early on. The earlier you find any fraudulent activity, the easier it is to remedy. If you find any fraudulent activity on any of your credit reports, report your findings immediately. If everything looks accurate, Day 6 is complete!

All Done!

Voila! Your 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge is complete! Your reward? Now that you have completed all of those pesky tasks that have been hanging in the back of your mind, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of this beautiful spring weather worry-free!

Celebrate Mom without Your Wallet

by Stacy Tharp 9. May 2013

Mother's Day

After all she’s done for you, having just one day devoted to your mother just doesn’t seem like enough. That’s why you may feel inclined to shower her with expensive gifts and outings. But think about it – would your mother really want you taking out a second mortgage on your home for just one day? Didn’t she teach you better than that? Here are some ideas on how you can make your mother feel like the special woman that she is without going broke this Sunday.

Make Her a Meal

Stay away from the crowded restaurants and instead stay home and cook your mother her favorite meal! You will be able to enjoy a nice quiet conversation over delicious food made with your secret ingredient – love. Best of all, you won’t be rushed out to make way for another group as soon as you finish eating. Depending on what you make, you may spend a little bit more on this meal than the average meal you cook, but it should still be much cheaper than eating out!

Go on a Day Trip

Drive to the beach for the day and relax, or visit DC where you can take advantage of the free Smithsonian museums. Spending a day together is more meaningful and less costly than material gifts.

Give Her a Homemade Gift

There's nothing more thoughtful than a homemade gift. Now if you are thinking that you aren't creative and crafty enough to produce something nice, check out our Homemade Mother's Day Gift Ideas board on Pinterest. The simplicity of some of these ideas may surprise you!

Do Her Chores

Don't let your mom lift a finger on Mother’s Day! Clean her entire house, wash her car, run her errands, etc. If your mother is always on top of things and needs nothing done immediately, create some “vouchers” for her to use in the future for various tasks.

Write Her a Letter 

This is an especially good option for those who do not live close to their mothers. So when I say “write,” I mean with a pen, not a keyboard. And when I say “letter,” I mean on a physical piece of paper or greeting card, not a computer or phone. Write something thoughtful and detailed – something that could only come from you. Then put it in the mail (as in post office service, not internet). Physical letters are much more sentimental then electronic messages.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure your mother knows how much you appreciate her and everything she’s done for you!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-Friendly Barbeque

The Cheap Guide to Father's Day in Baltimore

Traveling Tips: Keep the Costs Low and the Fun Level High

Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 2

by Stacy Tharp 8. May 2013

Clean Dollars

Welcome back to the 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge! In case you missed part 1, click here. Otherwise, we're on to day 3...

Day 3: Take a Look at Your Retirement Plan

Step 1: Do you have a retirement plan? If so, move on to step 2. If not, start one…right now! Never underestimate the power of compound interest. You can start by looking into retirement plans that your employer offers. There are often incentives associated with these accounts that make these investments worth your while. However, when you are first setting everything up, it’s smart to meet with a financial consultant. There are many things to take into consideration when saving for retirement and many factors that go into how much you should be putting away. A financial consultant can do all the hard work for you and talk you through the process of getting your account(s) set up.

Step 2: So you have a plan in place – great! Now when was the last time you reviewed your plan? Since the hard part is setting up your retirement plan, many people think that once this is done, they can sit back and relax for the next 40 years. Not true! It’s important to review your plan periodically to make sure you are making good progress, everything is still on track, and your plan accounts for any major life changes you have made. Our Retirement Planner Calculator is a good place to start to see if your plan is still a good one.

Day 4: Find Ways to Save Money

Today you will “audit” yourself to see what you are unwisely spending money on. Do you have all of the premium movie channels but rarely use them? Maybe you would be better off getting rid of the channels and instead subscribing to Netflix or taking advantage of Red Box or movies on demand. Or maybe you do subscribe to Netflix but never use it – time to say goodbye! The same goes for magazine and online subscriptions. It’s easy to continue subscribing to a product or service for $10 a month and seems not worth the trouble to get rid of it…but if you have 5 of these unused subscriptions, that’s $50 a month you could save by getting rid of everything.

Also, when was the last time you shopped around for insurance (car, home, health, etc.)? You may have done your research and gotten several quotes initially, but if it’s been awhile, things have probably changed and there’s a good chance you can lower your premiums.

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final part to the Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge!

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