Three ways to “spring clean” your savings
These personal finance tips may help you straighten up — and spruce up — your financial approach
Less mess, less stress.
It’s no secret that conducting your annual round of spring cleaning is good for your home. But did you know it’s also good for your overall well-being?1 You may be surprised to learn that making your place spick and span every April can actually have a positive impact on both your mental and physical health.2
As the temperatures begin to warm up outside, people start to feel better when their living space looks better inside.
“(This) ritualized behavior is part of the renewal of spring,” says one medical professional. ”I think it’s correlated with the lifting of our moods. We get more active behaviorally — and this is one of the activities.”1
Now think about your finanical wellness. When you take similar steps to get your money in order, and follow a regular routine, studies show that you can reduce tension and raise your self-esteem in the process.3
So, this time of year doesn’t just have to be about decluttering the garage, wiping down windows, or sanitizing everything and anything you own. Now that winter is in the rearview mirror, and you may or may not have already thrown in the towel on achieving your New Year’s resolution, it’s also a great opportunity to spruce up your savings strategy. After all, your finances need be freshened up on occasion, too.
You may need help organizing your finances, so in the spirit of the season, here are three simple ways you can tidy up your budget and feel better about your future:
DUST UP ON YOUR CREDIT SCORE
What’s in a number? When it comes to your individual credit score, a lot — especially if you plan to buy a big-ticket item one day, such as a car, boat or house. The higher your mark, the lower the interest rate.4
Your credit score is based on several key factors, including your payment history, debt status and account utilization. While numerous things can have a negative effect on your total, like defaulting on a student loan or leaving a hospital bill unpaid, monitoring your credit score can help keep it in the best shape. Remember, Americans are entitled to one free credit report a year from each bureau.5
The standard range of credit scores is:6
- Above 800 – Exceptional
- 740-799 – Very good
- 670-739 – Good
- 580-669 – Fair
- Below 580 – Poor
So, where do you stand? You can access your credit score online to evaluate your current position and review your summary. If you discover any inaccurate information or derogatory entries that could be hurting your overall result, see if there is anything you can do to file a dispute or resolve an issue. In some cases, having an item removed from your credit report can significantly improve your credit score.
ORGANIZE AN EMERGENCY FUND
“Expect the unexpected.” You hear it over and over, yet many Americans would still struggle to find enough funds to cover an emergency expense.8
As you know, every day brings new surprises. And while you may think you have everything under control at this minute, a lot can change in 24 hours. Furnaces stop heating, fridges stop cooling and freezers stop working.
That’s why most experts recommend stashing away three to six months’ worth of expenses to be safe. There's a reason contributing to an emergency fund is often one of the first personal finance tips people hear. If you can, consider using some of your stimulus check or tax return to get your emergency fund up and running. Then, contribute to it early and often so you’re ready for whatever challenges come your way.
GET RID OF UNUSED SUBSCRIPTIONS
Today, it seems there is a subscription service for just about anything you can imagine. From boxed meals and beauty boxes to getting other boxes delivered faster, many different conveniences can eat away at your wallet. And, of course, don’t forget entertainment packages for TV, music and movies.
Chances are, you may even be signed up for certain programs you no longer benefit from or enjoy on a regular basis. Those petty costs and fees may look harmless, but they can really add up over time. In fact, Americans waste nearly $350 per year on subscription products they don’t even put to work.7
It’s up to you to cut the cord. Check your bank statements and surf your emails to identify all your recurring commitments. Which ones do you love? Which ones do you want? Most importantly, which ones do you need? Cancel the subscriptions you don’t use anymore to trim your spending and grow your savings.
Save those extra dollars in an Empower Investment Account
1 Cleveland Clinic, “Why Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just Good for Your Home ― But Your Mood Too,” April 2019.
2 Anna Hecht, CNN, “Spring cleaning? Shop these clever home organizers,” April 2018.
3 James M. Dahle, CNBC, “Op-ed: Why financial planning improves your health,” October 2020.
4 Bev O’Shea, Nerd Wallet, “8 Ways to Build Credit Fast,” February 2021.
5 Federal Trade Commission, ftc.gov, March 2021.
6 Bankrate, “How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate,” November 2019.
7 Cameron Huddleston, Yahoo Finance, “Thousands of Americans Waste $348 a Year on Subscriptions They’re Not Using,” July 2019.
8 Anna Bahney, CNN Business, “Only 39% of Americans can afford a $1,000 emergency expense,” January 2021.
Latest Empower Insights
Moms are some the most courageous, resilient and loving people in the world. They’re superhuman superwomen who wear many hats to go above and beyond for their families.
There are nearly 16 million kids in the U.S. who are being raised without a father. In fact, more than 80% of one-parent families with children under the age of 18 are headed by mothers.
For Caryl Wojcik, understanding the value of money and the importance of saving definitely came at an early age.