WASHINGTON — For many Americans, spring is a time to clean, sort and tidy up around the house. As consumers dust off their shelves and rid their homes of clutter, the American Bankers Association encourages them to organize their finances.
“The arrival of spring motivates people to renew their surroundings, and what better way to focus that momentum than to check off everything on your financial to-do list?” asked Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Taking stock of your finances and planting the seeds of new saving habits today will go a long way toward alleviating pressures on your pocket throughout the year.”
ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers refresh their finances:
- Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
- Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it.
- Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
- Download your bank’s mobile app. Manage your finances from the palm of your hand. With the click of a button, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
- Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
- Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.