Spring is officially in the air, which means it’s time for flowers, warmer weather, and of course, spring cleaning! One way to optimize the goals you set in January, February, and March is to spend a little time organizing and tailoring your budget as needed.
This month, we’ll show you six ways you can refresh your finances, earn extra money, and set yourself up for success this spring.
1. Cancel outdated subscriptions
Did you know Americans waste approximately $348 per year on unused entertainment subscriptions? That’s over 75 fancy coffees you could have consumed, money you could have put toward your emergency fund, or dollars you could have used to reduce your student loan balance. All for a service that you no longer need!
Here’s some more eye-opening evidence to keep in perspective. According to recent research, the average American spends about $1,497 per month on non-essential expenses such as dining out, drinking, and digital services. This can tally up to almost $18,000 a year.
If you’re looking for ways to scale down your spending, reviewing your subscriptions and non-essential expenses can be a great place to start.
Begin by looking to your bank statements for clues—automated bill payments often go unnoticed and add up. Once you’ve identified the expenses in question, ask yourself: “Do I still need this service? Is there a more economical alternative?” After you’ve decided which ones to keep and cancel, follow the appropriate guidelines to update your subscription status.
Here are a few sneaky subscriptions to look for:
- Streaming services
- Unused apps
- Expired free trials
- Fitness memberships
- News and magazine subscriptions
- Grocery delivery services
- Premium memberships
Note: No need to cancel subscriptions that you actually use, so long as they fit into your budget!
2. Reminder: File your taxes
While the tax deadline for 2019 taxes filed in 2020 has been extended to July 15th due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s still wise to file sooner. Plus, if you’re expecting a tax refund this year, the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get that money back in your wallet.
Failing to file your taxes—or request an extension—by July 15th can make managing your finances more challenging later on. Be sure to prioritize this on or before July 15th!*
If you’re filing for an extension to file, keep in mind that this will only exclude you from late filing penalties, but you’re still on the hook for late payments if you miss the deadline. Check out our March financial calendar and the TurboTax blog for more tax-specific content.
*Important Note: The tax deadline for 2020 has been extended to July 15th in response to public health concerns related to COVID-19.
3. Organize your tax paperwork
Before you shred or shove aside any of your tax-related paperwork, use these tips to help you organize for next year and dispose of old paperwork accordingly.
- Add this year’s tax paperwork to a file with your other existing tax records
- Remember, the IRS recommends keeping your records for a minimum of 3 years
- Store your file in a secure place such as a safe
- Your tax records contain personal details that you wouldn’t want to be compromised
- Shred any paperwork that you no longer need
- After the 3 year statute of limitations you may dispose of old paperwork responsibly
Keep in mind, you may need to keep records for longer if you didn’t file, filed incorrectly, or meet other circumstances outlined by the IRS
4. Clean out your closet and sell extra clothes for cash
Looking for a way to boost your savings? Here’s an idea: spring clean your closet and sell unused clothes for cash! Here are some tips to guide your closet clean-out:
- Save basics and go-to pieces—these are your style staples
- Ditch items that no longer fit your taste, or those you haven’t worn in months
- Wash and iron the clothes you want to sell (as needed), this will help you get the best value
- Consider online resale and consignment store options
- Online benefits & drawbacks:
- Broader audience
- Higher listing prices
- User-friendly interface
- List one item at a time
- Huge market means buyers have many options
- Consignment benefits & drawbacks:
- Easy drop-off
- The store is in charge of sales, not you
- Oftentimes you can trade for store credit
- Stores may not take any or all of your items
- Stores may offer you a lower price than online buyers
- Online benefits & drawbacks:
5. Unsubscribe from tempting sales emails
According to a recent survey, 76% of subscribers say they’ve made an online purchase because of an email marketing campaign. If your inbox is crowded with tempting offers and promo codes, consider unsubscribing to these vendors. If you’re not ready to cut the cord completely, direct sales emails into a specific folder rather than keeping them in your primary inbox. Or, open up a secondary email for all promotional emails and offers.
Turbo Tip: Take your detox a step further by taking measures to stop social media from ruining your finances.
6. Review your monthly budget and tailor as needed
Life changes happen daily, and your budget should reflect that! Here are some tips to help you rethink and refresh your monthly budget as necessary:
- Factor in changes in income
- Do you have a new stream of revenue helping you meet your financial goals? Or has business been slow as of late? Review your income to get started.
- Consider any changes in expenses
- A new living situation, medical bills, or an upcoming vacation can change your financial situation, too.
- Implement changes and set new goals
- Depending on your circumstances, you may have more or less wiggle room in your budget. Use your budget audit to help you make appropriate choices, or use a budgeting app to help you get back on track.
- Make changes to your financial goals as needed. Scale back or adopt a more aggressive approach.
For more information on building and tweaking your monthly budget, check out this post on Budgeting 101.
Prefer to organize online? Create an editable copy of our April monthly template in three simple steps:
- Open our Calendar Template in Google Sheets
- Select “File”, then “Make a Copy”
- Save in your own Google Drive to make edits
Make 2020 your most successful year yet with our series of financial to-do lists tailored to each calendar month. Look forward to more exciting topics including, investment tips, budgeting hacks, and more!