How To … Spring-clean your finances

Spring is in the air and as the end of the year hurtles towards us, this could be a great time to clean out your financial clutter.

While spring-cleaning is traditionally associated with housework or even sorting out your office desk, it is an important aspect of managing your money in order to achieve financial wellbeing.

International money coach Julie Shea says that one of her biggest complaints from clients is that they don’t feel like they have a handle on where their money is going.

“All it takes is discipline and a bit of time. For example, with online banking, it is easier than ever to take a look at where your money has gone,” says Shea.

Here’s a quick guide to financial spring-cleaning:

Clean out your wallet
1 Get rid of all the cash slips that are weighing down your wallet. Instead of stuffing your wallet, you could set aside a small box where you keep these slips and then reconcile them with your bank statement, or make a note of your expenses at least once a month.

Physically organise your cash
2 As silly as it may sound, research shows that you tend to spend less and keep better track of your money if it is actually organised in denominations within your wallet. So take time to arrange your money in descending order.

Tax documentation
3 The SA Revenue Service requires you to keep supporting documents for up to five years. Go through your filing cabinet and clean out the documents you no longer need.

Check your estate planning
4 Make sure that important documents, such as your will, are easily accessible. Ideally, you should have a copy of your will at hand in your home. Ensure that it has been updated in line with any recent deaths, births or marriages. The same can be said for your retirement
fund and life assurance beneficiary nominations.

Clear out your wardrobe
5 Get rid of clothes that you haven’t worn in the past year or two. You can donate themor sell them at a second-hand clothing shop and earn a tidy sum of cash plus peace of mind.

Update your files
6 In this modern day and age, you can easily keep track of your filing with electronic statements. Check that your statements are
filed properly and are up to date. You should also check that all your bills have been paid
on time. If you can set up a debit order for payments, that is usually the easiest way to manage your bills.

Unauthorised payments
7 These can easily slip through the cracks. Trawl your bank statements and query any debits that look unfamiliar. Check for small amounts of money being siphoned off your account, debits that go off twice and are not refunded, as well as old debit orders that should have been cancelled but are still going off your account.

Loyalty programmes
8 For example, if you have outstanding Clicks ClubCard vouchersor you’ve lost them, you can call your loyalty programme administrator to check if they can send you replacement vouchers.

Bank fees
9 Keep your bank on its toes. Shop around and compare the account you are currently using and the fees you are paying with other competing banks. Reconcile your actual bank usage (number of debit orders, cash withdrawals and so on) with the package you are on and ensure that you are making the best use of your bank.

Household and motor insurance
10 You may have bought household contents recently. Check your insurance cover has been updated. Your car is a depreciating asset, so check that your insurer has adjusted its insured value.

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