Spring Clean Your Home and Your Budget

Every year when springtime arrives you get geared up about spring cleaning your home. This year why not extend your cleaning to include your budget and make a commitment to reducing your debt and doing away with bad spending habits.

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Reducing your utilities, cable and cell phone bills

When was the last time you really took a good look at your gas, electric, water, cable and cell phone bills? It’s time to examine each bill, check the rates and see where you can save money. If you live in a state where the electric is deregulated, you now have the opportunity to shop around. If you live in Texas, for example, check with companies like TXU and then compare TXU energy plans with others offered to get the best rates.

There’s also a lot of competition out there for cable and cell phone service. Review your bills and then contact other service providers to see if they offer a lower monthly payment. In addition to shopping for better rates, it’s also a good idea to remove some of the channels that you don’t ever watch. With your cell phone, if you have unused minutes each month switch to a different plan. The company is never going to call you to pay less, so it’s up to you to take notice of where you’re wasting money and correct it.

Are you paying too much for insurance?

There are many insurance companies, each offering different rates. If you currently have a homeowner’s, car and a life insurance policy, contact a few insurance companies in your area to see if there are any discounts available that your company does not offer. Also, if you are not currently receiving a discount for bundling the three, you’re spending more than you should. Most companies offer a substantial discount on each policy for having them together.

Do away with uncontrolled spending

If you make a decent salary and find that at the end of the month you barely cover your obligations, it might be time to get your spending habits under control. Start by compiling a list of things you spend money on daily, weekly and monthly, aside from your household bills, car payment and credit cards. This will give you a true accounting of what you spend your money on. Buying lunch out daily can add up to over $50.00 a week, throw in your morning cup of joe and your now up to $60.00 to $70.00 and that’s not even adding in the nights you eat out. Do you buy things you need or mostly things you want? Are you paying for them on a credit card or with your cash? Just a few extras each month can absorb all your extra money quickly, leaving you scrapping to cover the important things, like your bills. Make the commitment to purchase only what you need and save up for what you want. It will make acquiring your wants so much more enjoyable.

Paying down debt

Most people have debt in some form or another. They have a mortgage, a car payment and a couple of credit cards. If you have more than two credit cards, along with two car payments and a personal loan, you’re just a paycheck away from disaster. It’s time to stop using your credit cards like an ATM and pay them off. Not only are you paying more for the things you bought, but now you have a continuous payment required each month. And, if your credit card is maxed or more than 50 percent used, you are also lowering your credit score. If too much debt and open available credit affect you, be smart and pay off a few cards and reduce the balances on the ones you decide to keep.

The importance of a savings account

You may think that putting your money away is not doable, but quite the opposite is true. If you free up money previously spent on frivolous purchases and put it into a savings account you’ll soon have the extra money you need and want. You can use it for repairs, to purchase something cash or to take that vacation you talk about but never seem to do.

Springtime is the best time for a fresh start. Do away with your old spending habits and get out your pen and paper and create a budget for life.

 

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