When I think about getting ready for summer, I picture stocking up on sunscreen, getting a pedicure (sandal season!), filling my Kindle with summer reads and booking as many vacations as I can reasonably go on (sorry, coworkers).
To do this, I have to make sure I have my budget in a good place. After all, when I've got my toes in the sand, the last thing I want to think about is my finances.
So, to help you (and myself) get ready for the upcoming warmer months, here are a dozen quick and easy things to do to get a summer-worthy budget.
1. Adjust your withholdings
While your taxes are still reasonably fresh in your mind, see if you need to adjust your withholdings. While getting a refund is nice, it means you went all year with that money in Uncle Sam's pocket instead of yours. Check with your human resources department to find out how to make any necessary changes to your W-4.
2. Revisit your financial resolutions
Accomplish them already? Good for you! Don't stop there. Add some new ones. Not quite there? Totally fine — there's still plenty of time left in the year. To help, you can adjust those goals into smaller increments so they're more obtainable. Didn't set any? What're you waiting for?
3. Verify information
Have you moved? Got a new email address or phone number? Verify all your important accounts — banks, credit card issuers, insurance companies, etc. — have your most recent info in case they need to get a hold of you.
4. Create (or update) your budget ...
These aren't as complicated as you may think, either. In fact, we have an easy starter budget template you can use right here. Already have one? Make sure it's refreshed, as your financial situation changes over time.
5. ... And stick with it
If you go through the work of putting together a budget, you may as well use it. Plus, if you're planning summer getaways, this is really going to come in handy.
6. Prioritize your spending
To some, it is worth it to have a line item for ride sharing, while others are OK with public transit because it means they can spend the money elsewhere (for me, Broadway tickets are so much more enjoyable than a weekly Lyft ride home). Going through your budget to establish your priorities is helpful — and a great motivator when you're tempted to call for a car instead of walking to the train.
7. Review your monthly bills
How long has it been since you looked at what fees you're paying on your cell phone bill? Go over it (and your other regular bills) and see if there's anything you can do to save a few bucks. It may seem small at first, but it'll add up.
8. Shop around
By comparing your insurance options — from car and home insurance to life and disability insurance — you may just find a better deal than what you're paying now. This doesn't have to take a long time, either. You can easily compare quotes right here on Policygenius.
9. Same goes for interest rates
Have a high interest rate on a credit card? Call the issuer and see if they'll reward your loyalty with a reduced interest rate. Note: This is usually only going to work if you're in good standing on your card. If not ...
10. Pay off a card or two
Carrying a balance? See if you can find a way to pay it off so you aren't throwing away money on interest charges each month. Need a little extra help? A balance transfer credit card will give you some breathing room — you'll get a set amount of time with a 0% annual percentage rate so you can pay down your debt without paying interest. Just make sure you pay it off before the promotional offer ends.
11. Consider a travel credit card
Like I said, summer is the time to travel — and travel credit cards can help you save. Yes, really. Ditching checked bag fees is a wonderful thing. Here are some other fees you shouldn't be paying.
12. Finally do the rollover
It seems everyone carries around several 401(k) accounts from former employers — now is the time to transfer them so you're only keeping track of one account.
Image: Steve Debenport
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