Spring isn't just for house cleaning - it's also an ideal time to take a look at your money management. We interviewed some of the most trusted names in the personal finance industry and compiled their best tips for getting your finances in shape before summer.1. Run Your Credit Report
Your credit score can impact everything from your mortgage rate to your credit card approvals. In some cases it can even affect your competitiveness as a job candidate. Now that tax season is almost over, Debbi King, personal finance and life coach at the ABC's of Personal Finance, says "it's an ideal time to get a credit report and check for errors. You can get one report per agency per year for free from AnnualCreditReport."
Find out what to look for on your credit report, and if you discover mistakes contact the company that issued the account.2. Negotiate Better Prices and Rates
Bargaining with your current service providers for a better rate can reward you with savings this spring, and throughout the year - which frees up money for investing or paying down debt. A good place to start is your home services. For instance, you can negotiate for better prices on cable, Internet service, phone service, and more.
Matthew Coan, owner of the savings account comparison website Casavvy.com, suggests shopping around for the best bank, too - suggesting that online banks have a lot to offer. "Online banks do not have the overhead traditional banks do," he says. "They often take these savings and pass them onto their customers in the form of little to no fees and much better interest rates."
3. Automate Investments and Savings
Elle Kaplan, founder and CEO of the wealth management company LexION Capital, says, "An excellent way to do some financial spring cleaning is to automate contributions to retirement investments like your 401(K)."
Ryan Falvey, Managing Director of CFSI Financial Solutions Lab, suggests using Digit to enhance your savings. It's a free automated savings tool that looks at your spending habits and automatically calculates how much is safe to transfer to your Digit savings account. It's an excellent way to start an emergency fund or save for summer expenses like a vacation or kids' camps.
4. Inventory Debt
According to Dan Matysik, vice president of personal loans at Discover, understanding what you owe is paramount to financial freedom. "Knowing the big number of how much you owe in debt might be scary at first, but remember, you can't tackle what you don't understand," he says. "Getting a firm grasp on the total is a top priority."
If you receive a refund on your taxes this spring, use it to pay off any high-interest credit card debt. In some cases, getting a personal loan to pay off balances may be your best course of action.