Can you feel that? Spring is in the air! (Actually, it’s Autumn that’s nipping at my heels on this side of the world, but let’s just go with it). While you may be looking forward to tucking away your winter woolies, and maybe even venturing out without a brolly (GASP), there’s one other thing that should be on your to-do list this month. It’s the perfect time for a Budget Spring Clean!
Why do I need to Spring Clean my budget?
Hopefully you have a budget already- and it’s probably working great! So why do you need to give it a quick Spring Clean?
Re-evaluating your budget is as important as re-evaluating any other part of your life. Taking five minutes to check in every month or so can help you pick up any mishaps before they turn into full-blown disasters
So what should you be looking out for?
Recent bad spending habits
Look over your bank statements for the past few months. Are there any bad spending habits that you’ve fallen into recently? Perhaps you’ve started buying lunch every day, or had one too many big nights out. While I’m completely in support of a Treat Yo Self every now and again, one too many splurges can totally derail your financial planning and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them. If you don’t like to feel like you’re depriving yourself, consider setting up a ‘splurge fund’ to keep this spending within your budget.
Inflated living expenses
Have any of your bills increased since you last did your budget? If you’ve recently been hit with a rent bump, or those insurance premiums for Fluffy have been creeping up, those changes might not be reflected in your spending. Take a few moments to check that all of your figures are still correct.
(Now’s also a good time to reconsider your commitments – if any of those bills are starting to look a bit hefty, if might be time for you to head to the financial Bonus Round at the end of this post.)
You had almost forgotten about that car insurance, hadn’t you! It’s so easy to let annual expenses creep up, but they’re also frequently the nasty surprises that can send you into a financial free-fall. Scan through your bills for the last year for any large figures, and make sure you’ve marked in the calendar to pay them well before those overdue fines start rolling in.
While you’re looking through your statements, make sure to keep an eye out for…
Remember that gym membership you signed up for in January? If you haven’t used it by now, it might be time to cut the ties. Ditto that vege subscription that just wilts in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator, and those Audible credits that go to waste every month. Cancelling a small subscription might seem more trouble than it’s worth, but when you’ve got that extra money in your bank account at the end of the year, I bet you won’t regret it.
What, you want more?
If you’re not ready to head back into the real world (because budgeting is so much fun!), here’s a bonus round:
Contact your service providers for discounts
While some providers insist that they ‘don’t negotiate’ on prices, that doesn’t mean that you’re on the right plan for you. I once knocked $30 a month off my phone bill during a long conversation with my mother (sorry, mum!) thanks to the wonders of web-chat. I didn’t bully my way into a discount- there was just a plan available that made much more sense for my needs (data usage queens, I’m looking at you). I’ve also been able to negotiate 40% off utility bills! If the thought of haggling sends you into a cold sweat, make sure you get prepared before you make the call- google the cheapest going rates, and jot down the names of a couple of competing companies. You’ll be surprised how quickly a discount can appear out of nowhere if you drop a couple of lower figures and mention that you’re considering moving.
Take a few minutes to go through these simple steps and you can be be sure that you’re still on track for a great financial future. Now go out and enjoy that sunshine!