Better Money Habits: How to Spring Clean Your Budget!
Ahhh, spring! When the bees and butterflies flit from flower to flower. When it’s finally time to let fresh air into the house, enjoy the warmer weather AND…clear the clutter from your budget!
Yes, you read that correctly.
Spring is a great time to take a look at the budget you put in place back in January, dust it off, and freshen things up!
Good money habits start with a budget, but like all habits, as time passes we can wander away from a habit we wanted to start, or even forget about it altogether!
How to Spring Clean Your Budget
To “spring clean” your budget simply means to take a step back and look at everything you’re paying for each month and make sure you still want to pay for that “thing”. To pull the furniture out from the wall and vacuum behind it, so to speak!
My favorite budget method is the 50/30/20 Budget. With this budget method, you break up your monthly dollars into three buckets: 50% for Needs, 30% for Wants, and 20% for Saving and Debt repayment.
Start with the 30% Wants Category
Typically, the transactions or bills you’re going to look at during your “spring cleaning” are those in the “30% Want” category of your budget because this category consists of your monthly discretionary money.
Here are some expenses to review:
- Subscriptions to magazines you aren’t reading
- Streaming services you no longer use (HBOMax, Netflix, Disney)
- Car insurance: when was the last time you had your policy reviewed? If you haven’t done so since before the start of the pandemic and/or you’ve switched to WFH, this could be a couple of hundred bucks a year!
- If you aren’t using all the amenities at the gym you thought you would, could you switch to a gym with less overall amenities, but still get what you want?
- Are there any expenses you’ve been meaning to cancel, but haven’t found the time?
It Doesn’t Hurt to Review the 50% Need Category
The 50% Need category doesn’t usually have a lot of “give” in it but it doesn’t hurt to look at transactions and bills, just in case. The 50% Need category tends to be things like rent, your mortgage, car payments and other bills that you must pay for to keep the wheels on the bus that is your life.
However, when spring cleaning it doesn’t hurt to “dust off” everything, so do take a quick look!
Finally, the 20% Savings and Debt Category
The last category of your 50/30/20 Budget would be the 20% set aside for savings and debt. I recommend reviewing this after you look at the 30% Wants category and see if you’ve freed up any of those funds. If you have then this could be a good time to increase those debt payments or even decide to use some of it to pay the principal on your mortgage.
Now that you’ve finished your “spring cleaning”, it’s time to update your budget tracking method.
For me, this means I need to update my Bill Calendar.
Track Your Budget in Your Bill Calendar
If you’ve been around here for any time at all, then you know I use a customized online Bill Calendar to monitor my budget on a daily and weekly basis.
Each Sunday, I open my Money Date checklist and my online calendar and make sure that my automated money system is working as it should.
In as little as fifteen minutes a week, I can review all of my bills that are set to be paid automatically in the coming days. If there’s a big bill coming out or payment that I need to make, I note that on my paper calendar so that I don’t forget. If it’s a bill that I can pay online, quite often I’ll go ahead and pay it. This is also the time that I make sure I’m on track to meet my savings goals and I review my overall expenses for the month.
If you are interested in how I use my online calendar to manage my budget, check out my Create a Bill Calendar to Track Your Budget on Skillshare! In this class I go over:
- Which is better for bill tracking: paper calendars or online calendars?
- Whether - and WHEN! - you should use a money tracking app
- How to create a customized Bill Calendar
- How to set up your bills so you never get a pesky late fee again!
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**I am not a licensed financial advisor. I am a money expert and I offer education, tips, tricks and my opinions around money. You should consult a professional who understands your needs in order to make the best decisions for you! Additionally, some links in this blog may be affiliate links, which means if you click the link and buy the product I may earn a small commission - at NO COST to You! It’s one of the ways I keep the lights on around here so TYIA! 😉
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