We’re anxiously awaiting the green grass that comes with spring and looking forward to the green fun that comes with St. Patrick’s Day. But spring can also be a time to work on that other green – money. Just like spring offers a great opportunity to clean and freshen the house, it’s also a good time to evaluate ways to save money. Here are some tips from the financial advisors at Sturgill & Associates to help you assess and improve your financial health.
The very first item on your list should be to increase your retirement plan contributions or other savings by one percent. According to the experts, if you fail to take this first step, the reduced expenses will never actually result in “saving money”. You will reduce expenses in one area only to see the money disappear into some other unbudgeted area. Cutting expenses feels good but has no long term benefit unless you are first disciplined to save.
Essential takeaway: Funding your retirement plan should be thought of as an essential monthly bill that needs to be paid.
Many people have trouble with the “how” part of budgeting. To help, the experts suggest using account aggregation software such as Mint.com or HelloWallet (some employers offer this) which allow you to see all of your accounts in one place. These programs will analyze spending habits and give suggested budgets which can then be tailored to meet your individual goals.
Other key components of budgeting include living within your means, i.e. don’t use credit cards for daily living expenses. Try to have a savings account with $500-$1,000 for crisis scenarios.
Make finances fun — find friends and others to talk to about saving and budgets or join an investment club – support systems can keep you accountable and help with tough decisions.
Our mortgage is one of our biggest monthly bills. Each year be sure to evaluate how much you are paying and what is included in that payment. Make sure you’re getting the best homeowners insurance rate and talk with your lender if you are paying for private mortgage insurance, once you have enough equity, the lender should cancel the insurance.
We sign up for deals and promotions every day, and there are new deals and promotions being offered all the time. Shop around for those monthly services – cell phone carriers, cable providers, auto insurance – make sure you’re not paying too much after a deal has expired and look to bundle services for a better rate (like having auto insurance and homeowners insurance with the same company can often mean savings on both).
Be sure to keep track of memberships and subscriptions. If you haven’t been to the gym in six months or you haven’t read that newspaper that comes in the mailbox every day in three months – you may want to consider canceling.
To learn more, visit www.sturgillcpa.com or find a financial advisor at http://business.hanoverchamber.com/list.