Spring is finally here! As the snow melts away, it’s a great time to defrost your finances and get ready for the summer.
Check out these nine “spring cleaning” money tips to help boost your financial health.
1. Renew Your Budget
When it comes to money, your budget is your financial battery. While it sets boundaries, it ultimately provides the liberty to live confidently within your means.
If you have already been following a budget, take a few minutes to review it. See how well you’ve adhered to it, and make adjustments where necessary.
Or, if you’re new to budgeting, now is an ideal time to start. Click here to learn more about budgeting (and the best personal finance apps on the market).
2. Make the Most of Your Tax Refund
Your tax refund can be a powerful financial tool.
If you received a decent sum from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), take a moment to consider how you might best apply it.
For example, you might invest part of it in the stock market. You could also use a portion of it to pay down debts. Or, you could put it towards your monthly auto or mortgage payments.
3. Start (or Increase) Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is another great place to invest your tax refund.
After all, the pandemic highlighted the true value of savings. COVID-19 threatened the job security of millions of Americans, forcing families to tap retirement accounts to make ends meet.
Generally speaking, financial experts encourage people to have three to six months of expenses saved for a “rainy day.” While that may sound like an impossibility, know that every dollar you save will instill security (and confidence) in your financial future.
4. Streamline Subscriptions
Recurring costs can be deadly.
Take a moment to review your monthly credit card statement and identify your current subscriptions. Chances are, there may be one or two you forgot about — or even a few you don’t really need.
After all, the average consumer spends nearly $275 on subscription services each month!
Look at it this way: if you cancel just one $9.99 monthly subscription, you’ll save almost $120 over the course of the year.
The little things add up.
5. Upgrade Your Bank
Most traditional banks have low-interest rates. As a result, your cash can’t really grow in a meaningful way (especially during times of peak inflation).
Thanks to “online-only” banks, however, there’s a better way forward.
Whereas traditional banks have interest rates averaging around .06 percent, online-only banks can pay as high as .6%, that’s a 900% difference!
Over time, that can make a huge difference. Click here to explore the best online high-yield savings accounts in 2022.
Note: Online-only banks don’t just have higher interest rates. They also often have lower fees.
Click here to learn more.
6. Tackle Credit Card Debt
Credit card interest rates are high. Very high.
As all consumers know, credit card debt can be incredibly dangerous. When left ignored, balances spread like wildfire.
That’s why real estate mogul Warren Buffett tells investors to focus on paying down debt before playing the market. As he famously put it, “If I owed any money at 18%, the first thing I’d do with any money I had would be to pay it off. It’s going to be way better than any investment idea I’ve got.”
Remember getting out from the shadow of credit card debt takes time. When possible, try to pay more than the minimum payment and use your card sparingly.
7. Consider a Credit Card Balance Transfer
If you’re carrying a significant credit card debt burden and can’t get ahead of it, you may want to consider a balance transfer.
And what exactly is a credit balance transfer? In short, it’s the process of moving debt from one credit card to another.
While the debt itself doesn’t go away, a good balance transfer card can deliver three key features:
- It will cost $0 to transfer your balance (i.e. no introductory fees)
- It will have a $0 annual fee
- Best of all, it will offer 0% introductory APR for at least 12 months (and sometimes up to 18 months)
The financial benefits are clear. With a new card, you will freeze your interest rate for a significant period of time. As a result, you’ll be empowered to make payments on time and steadily eliminate your debts.
Click here to view the best balance transfer cards currently available.
Note: Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of all balance transfer card offers. If you move forward with a balance transfer card, always make payments on time. A late or missed payment could jeopardize your 0% introductory APR.
8. Check Your Credit Report
Have you checked your credit report lately? If not, now is a great time to do so.
After all, credit is a hugely important financial tool. It unlocks access to personal loans, auto loans, and mortgages. The stronger your credit history, the lower your rates.
Your credit history is the financial “scorecard” lenders use when they assess your profile. Unfortunately, if there are any reporting errors or cases of fraud on your credit report, it can affect your access to financial products and lower your FICO® credit score.
That’s why it’s so important to check your credit report at least once a year.
To request a free copy of your credit report, simply visit freecreditreport.com.
9. Invest to Fight Inflation
Inflation is bad right now. Everything from beef to gasoline costs more than ever.
As cash loses its purchasing power, the stock market becomes a truly essential alternative.
After all, the stock market averages a return of about 10% per year. And according to recent studies, stocks outperform inflation 90% of the time.
By putting your money to work in the market, you can stay ahead of inflation and protect your financial health.
Note: New to the market? Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to investing in stocks.
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