With a new season upon us, your house isn’t the only thing in need of a spring cleaning. This time of year can be a great opportunity to tidy up your finances to not only ensure your budget is in top shape, but to help you prep for upcoming trips, house maintenance, and summer spending, while still keeping your long-term goals on track. Here are several pre-season preparations that you’ll want on your radar and ways you can improve your finances as spring gets underway.
As temperatures rise and event calendars begin to fill up again, you’ll want to get a jump start on your financial planning so you can enjoy all the concerts, barbecues, and weddings that are being added to your schedule. If you haven’t had a chance to review your budget at the beginning of the year, take a moment to look it over now. Do you have enough income left over after paying for your essentials to designate the fun things you’d like to do? By proactively planning now, you can cut any unnecessary costs or suspend certain expenses to have the money you need for all your spring activities.
If you have a spring or summer trip in mind, start planning as soon as possible, including creating a special savings category in your budget and a separate savings account. Set up an automatic deposit once a week or twice a month that helps you save money specifically for your trip. Begin scouting travel and lodging deals now and book a flight as soon as you’re certain of the dates. It’s widely believed the best time to purchase plane tickets for a domestic trip is at least 64 days in advance. If getting to your destination via car or train is more affordable, consider this as a way to free up more money to spend on the activities and experiences you can enjoy when you arrive.
Before winter ends, you may consider budgeting for car maintenance and get your vehicle tuned up for spring. Keeping on top of basic services and auto check-ups can help you avoid more costly repairs down the road. Common automotive maintenance expenses to prepare for this spring include:
Maintaining your home can be expensive, and if you live in an area where winter months are cold and snowy, you’ve likely had to spend a lot of money keeping the inside warm and the outside cleared. With spring approaching, it can be a good time to start listing necessary home improvements, as well as any upgrades that can help make your house more energy efficient. With improved windows or insulation, for example, you’ll use less heat in the winter, or require less cooling in the summer, helping to save you money on your energy bills. Be sure to include home improvements in your budget so you can financially prepare for any maintenance or repairs that might need to be taken care of this spring. Household improvements include:
If you have children in school, you likely see many expenses pop up in late spring, including yearbooks, prom, senior trips, teacher and graduate gifts, and graduation parties. Without proper planning, your budget can quickly take a hit and increase your debt level, causing you to rely on credit cards. Estimate how much you will need for these items and events and by which date, then break this total down by how many weeks you have remaining. If possible, set aside this amount every week, either manually or with an automatic deposit. If you’re out shopping in the months prior, keep an eye out for sale items where you can set aside gifts for later. With a little preparation, you can clear out any unnecessary money drains from your budget and be financially prepped for these memorable milestones.
Once spring is in the air, you’ll be ready to get back outside to enjoy your favorite activities, ready your house for barbeques, and explore new destinations. To help lessen the financial burden of new expenses, take time now to review your budget, find areas that can be trimmed, and see where funds can be reallocated to your springtime expenses. Making friends with your budget—no matter the season—can help you achieve your personal money goals while giving you the financial freedom to seize more of life’s opportunities.