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Spring clean your finances

It’s not just time to clear out the physical clutter in your home. Why not take a look at your finances to see if there’s anything you can throw out or tidy up?

Anyone who has read Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, will know her approach to decluttering is to focus on surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy.”

There’s no reason why you can’t take the same approach to a spring clean of your finances. If your finances are causing you grief or concern, it might be time to run a joy-o-meter over them.

Start by committing to cleaning up your finances

Sometimes the negative feelings about our spending come from the sneaking suspicion that we’re spending more than we should. It feels better to get clear on where our money is going and then commit to take positive action to change things.

What brings you joy in life?

Want to reduce that “eek!” reaction when you check your bank balance? Start by thinking about what brings you most joy in life. How do you actually want to spend your money? Are travel experiences important
to you? Or do you love a good restaurant meal or participating in certain hobbies? Do you consider socialising with friends money well-spent or do you like to be able to be generous with your family?

Trim back what doesn’t bring you joy

Now that you’re clear about what you value spending money on, it’ll be easier to see where your bank balance is being drained by things you don’t consider important. Perhaps you like to have a mobile phone but getting the latest iPhone wasn’t really a priority. Maybe you thought that a magazine subscription or club membership would be something you’d enjoy but they’ve both been neglected. Are all your direct debits still bringing you joy? Amanda Cassar, financial adviser, Wealth Planning Partners, says: “It’s easy to sign up for things and forget that the monthly debits still come out, whether we’re using the service or not. The little bits all add up.” 

Tidy up, one bill at a time

Fees and interest on financial products rarely contribute to our enjoyment of a purchase or a product. A few small shifts in behaviour can help plug the leaks caused by late fees, non-ATM network fees, and interest charged for paying by credit or using a credit card that’s not right for you.

Reorganising our finances can have a big impact too. How long since you checked whether you still have a good deal on insurances or utilities? Or made an appointment with a financial planner or your accountant? Or checked if you are still getting a good interest rate on your term deposit? If you got a credit card for its reward scheme,
is it still earning its keep? If you have multiple accounts or credit cards, could you simplify and only have one of each?

Implement a system

Restoring order to our finances can help us feel happier about our money. If you always have a scramble at tax time to get together your paperwork, get into the habit of photographing or scanning any receipts that may be a tax deduction. Using a spreadsheet, app, or filing system can help bring more harmony into the management of your finances.

Check in regularly

Decluttering and restoring order to your financial world is just one part of the process. Now ask yourself if there’s anything you can add that will bring more joy to your life. Instead of not socialising with friends because it’s too expensive, look for ways you can still get together without a big outlay.

If you love to read but are spending a lot on buying books, use a library or start a book-swap circle. There’s plenty you can do!