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Spring is finally here! And it is absolutely my favorite season of all! I just gave my closet a refresh, went Marie Kondo on my house and officially opened the terrace for the warm season.
Spring is the season of new beginnings, fresh starts. I am so inspired by nature and the seasons. Seeing everything around me coming to life and reflects on my energy and my mind. What better time to give your money a spring refresh as well and make it flourish!
Money clutter and how it affects your financial success
I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” years ago, several times actually. In case you live in a cave and haven’t heard of Marie Kondo: This tiny, fragile-like-rice-paper Japanese
girl woman who turns people’s homes upside down teaching them to only keep what they love.
Tastes, needs and wants change constantly. Life is never static. That’s why it is so important to regularly do an audit of the things in your life to make sure they make you happy and truly reflect your values. I go through my stuff on a regular basis. If I don’t love it, I thank it and I toss it or give it away.
Every time I go through this process, I feel such an increase of energy. Clearing my space from clutter and unused or unappreciated items makes me feel fresh and energized.
The ‘KonMoney’ Method
The same applies to our finances. We don’t think of decluttering our finances because we don’t ‘see’ it on a daily basis.
We open accounts, sign up for all sorts of subscriptions, collect piles and folders full of old papers and bank statements… Nowadays, signing up for paid apps, streaming services or other subscription-based plans is as easy as tapping a button on your mobile phone.
These things add up over time. I like to keep everything streamlined so it is easy to find and track. I feel more ‘aligned’ with my money if I know exactly what is going on, where my money is.
Clutter prevents energy from flowing freely. So let’s give your money a refresh and go Marie Kondo on our finances!
I felt inspired to label it the KonMoney method.
Here’s a a full list of ideas on how you can do to give your finances a breath of fresh air and declutter for spring (and tax season!).
#1 Check in on your New Year’s goals
Maybe you set a few ambitious goals on January 1st. Now is a good time to do a quarterly review. Revisit your goals and see how you did, what you accomplished, what you didn’t and why.
A goal is only as good as the action you put into achieving it. Did you take action on these goals?
Find your WHY. If your ‘why’ isn’t big enough, your goal won’t seem worth attaining and you’re less likely to achieve it. The mind is the most powerful motivator.
Assess your money values and beliefs. They are the core of all your actions and thus results.
If you wonder where your money went at the end of the month, it might be time to have a closer look at your money values. To me, this is tightly bound with my budgeting as my budget is constantly keeping me on track as to where I want my money to go. It helps re-evaluate my money values constantly.
So what is important to you?
What are your goals and dreams?
What would you like your money to do for you?
Write it down and create a new plan or habit around it.
#2 Tidy up your paperwork
There is no spring clean without some actual tidying up. Doing some financial admin now and then is a necessary evil. Documents of all sorts tend to be scattered all over the house.
All Marie Kondo-style, put all your financial documents in one place. Give your money literally a home and store important paperwork in one spot. Get folders, label them and file everything neatly. If you prefer paperless, make digital copies but make sure you save them on a secure drive so they don’t get lost.
You will be glad you have a solid filing system when tax is due and you have all relevant documents at hand.
#3 Declutter and sell your stuff
That’s a ‘two birds one stone’ when you’re on a spring clean anyway.
I declutter on a regular basis and every time, I am surprised how much stuff piles up. Clear out your closet, attic, basement, garage and see what you can sell on Ebay, Craigslist, Poshmark, etc.
For everything else, I go a flee market once a year and make good cash on my unused items. Someone’s trash is another one’s treasure!
#4 Switch or close accounts
With mobile banking and more and more online banks popping up (targeted to millennials in particular), you might have accrued a couple of accounts that you may or may not use. You might have opened an account because of an attractive offer.
Credit cards also come with all kinds of bonuses and benefits, so you might also have a nice collection of credit cards in your wallet.
It is nice to have choices but, personally, I like to keep things minimal and have only few accounts and cards, which gives me full control and overview over my finances at any time. This is just a constraint I have for myself.
Simplicity gives clarity and focus.
So, take inventory of how many accounts you have and where. You might even have some cash still sitting in one of your old accounts. Close those you don’t use or need. It might save you a lot of money on fees and give you more clarity.
For your savings accounts, shop around and switch to better rate accounts to boost your savings.
At this day and age, horrendous banking fees should be a thing of the past. Switch your checking accounts to low or no-fee options.
Empower Finance offers great banking service with checking, credit and savings account at no charge, but great interest rates, rewards AND a money management tool – all in one place. Monese is another great banking solution.
#5 Clean your wallet
How many old receipts, business cards and credit cards do you carry around in your wallet? Loyalty cards?
Ditch the ones you don’t use or which only cost you.
I like to keep my money super neat, sorting it by bill size and all facing the same direction. It is super important to take good care of your money, especially the physical cash. Keeping it neat and tidy is showing respect for your money.
Dust your wallet off, remove crumbles and all other kinds of dirt. If you have an old, worn-out wallet, replace it for a nice one.
I clear my wallet every night or minimum once a week. This way, I stay ‘in touch’ with my money and give it the same care and attention to show it that it is important to me.
#6 Find money
Go on a literal treasure hunt and look around for money everywhere.
It is insane how much cash is scattered around in our homes without us even realizing. Coins are cash! Collect them and use them. Go through pockets, wallets, drawers… Deposit it or treat yourself with it.
I have a coin jar where I collect all coins (after cleaning out my wallet) which I use as my “fun fund” or to save for a particular purpose. Once it’s full, I deposit the money in my savings account. Coins are money and money should earn interest. Bring those cents back into rotation.
Another easy way to ‘find’ money is to look for mystery charges in your bank statements. Mistakes and mischarges happen all the time. Maybe you have been overcharged or billed incorrectly. Call up the companies and inquire about any possible surcharges or refunds.
It is crazy but there is billions(!!!) of dollars of unclaimed property in the US, seven hundred dollars at average. What would you do with a couple hundred bucks?
People open accounts, change jobs, move and forget they had 50 bucks sitting in an account when they graduated from college. Same with retirement and savings plans from former employers, tax refunds, stocks, utility payments, insurance claims.. An insane amount of unclaimed cash sitting in all sorts of accounts because people forgot about them when changing employers or addresses.
Cash Unclaimed is a service that helps you find your hard-earned money that might be sitting somewhere just waiting for you to collect it.
#7 Use gift cards and reward points
As mentioned, I don’t like to carry around too many cards in my wallet. The downside is that I forget about my gift cards. And then I don’t have them on me when I actually want to make a purchase in that particular store. What a waste of money…
Gift cards are basically cash. Before you lose or forget about them… use them! Dig out all the gift cards you have and cash them in within the next 3 months.
#8 Break down your all your spending
There is no money makeover without the classic budget meeting. A budget is a mirror of your true values.
Remember: What you track, expands.
Go through your bank statements: is there anything you’re paying for that doesn’t serve you, you don’t use or like anymore? Does it spark joy?
Update your budget. Question everything and make sure your money is where you want it to be.
#9 Shop around for fixed expenses
As a next step, cancel subscriptions, adjust payment plans, check your insurance policies, cable, mobile phone providers, gym memberships, utilities, loans…
Maybe your current plans don’t fit your needs anymore or there is a promotion or discount on it.
I check my insurance at least once a year. Shop around for better value options. Or see if you can get a cash bonus for extending a contract.
You don’t need to do it all at once. Once a week (see last point in this list), sit down and check one expense and see if you can shop around to find better deals or cancel it altogether. You might not need a gym membership or Netflix in the summer when you spend more time outside, with friends or at the pool. At least I don’t.
Make a plan and put cancellation deadlines into your calendar. It will remind you to call up the company to ask for a better deal.
I like to automate the amount I save from that right away and send it to a savings account. That way what I save ‘materializes’ and accrues over time. You won’t feel it missing in your checking account, but these precious pennies go to work for you in a better place. Nice to see how it adds up over time!
The beauty of automating your savings, investments or bills is, obviously, that it saves you lots of time.
Next to that, you avoid second-guessing saving money or impulse-shop. Get out of the ‘save later’ mentality. Sometimes it is wise to hide money from yourself.
Put your savings or investments on auto-pilot and set up scheduled plans by a fixed amount or certain percentage of your income. I recommend setting aside minimum 20% of your income every month.
The amount will be deducted from your paycheck or checking account automatically like a tax or expense and accumulate to a nice nest egg over time.
#11 Rebalance your investments
Once or twice a year, sit down and take the time to rebalance your investments.
Investing is designed for the long game. There will always be fluctuation, so no need to be checking in on them daily. It might actually cause you to panic when they’re going through a bullish period. The human ‘loss aversion’ reflex might kick in and cause you to frantically sell or pull all out and thus miss out on the magic compound effect.
Maybe you’re paying high fees with your particular investment company? Those eat into your earnings. See if you can move your portfolio to another bank. Make sure to research carefully beforehand if there are withdrawal fees, penalties or transaction costs.
Check on your investments at least once a year and see if you’re over- or underinvested anywhere and make adjustments if necessary.
#12 Create a Money Ritual
This is a big one!
After you have given your money a good spring clean and got on top of your finances, make it a habit to check in on your money on a regular basis. You and your money is a relationship that needs to be nurtured.
Set a regular ‘money date’. I schedule quality time with my money in my calendar. It gives me the time to log into my accounts, check transactions, pay bills, research investment opportunities, update my budget, do some planning, get some financial admin done and check in on my goals and progress.
Spending time with your money should always be a positive experience – regardless of your current bank balance. You should love your money. It is your money, it should serve you.
If, for example, you feel anxious logging into your bank account, a money ritual could help you overcome those negative feelings around it.
Light some candles, make yourself a nice cup of tea, put on some music and learn to love spending time with your money.
Investing in your money mindset and building a good relationship with it is going to pay insane dividends.
It is essential to take care of your money and give it enough attention.
Remember: Where attention goes, energy flows.
What do you do to keep your finances organized? Do you have a regular money habit?