Tax season is in full swing, and the IRS has processed and delivered more than $1 billion in refunds so far this year. Whether you’re receiving a tax refund or not, now may be the perfect time to spring clean your personal finances. Here are a few ways to get started:
• Save those extra funds: Studies show the latest tax refund trends are using the influx towards paying down debt and setting it aside to save up for large purchases like a car or home. To get in on the trend, start by tracking your monthly expenses and categorizing each expense as a want or a need. Avoid using a credit card if you are unable to pay the balance each month to avoid interest charges, and make a plan to pay off any outstanding debt. Financial experts recommend having an emergency fund covering three to six months of living expenses if you can. If not, start with an emergency fund goal of $1,000.
• Get invested: Investing can be the best way to grow your financial portfolio. According to a recent study from MagnifyMoney, more than three-quarters of millennials wish they would have started investing earlier. The main factors that respondents cited preventing them from investing are lack of knowledge, feeling intimidated and feeling overwhelmed about where to start. There is hope and help – many financial institutions offer free online workshops and opportunities to work with an advisor to help guide you through your financial future.
• Reassess monthly bills and spending habits: Now is a great time to review your monthly expenses and see what you can adjust or live without. Simple changes like cutting down on eating out or canceling subscriptions you don’t use can have a large impact. Shopping around for homeowner’s or car insurance is also a great way to secure some extra savings. Phone plans and home internet bills are other must-have services to shop for price comparisons and savings.
• Treat yourself: Spoiling yourself from time to time is not a bad thing, in fact, studies from the American Psychological Association have shown it to be a good boost to your overall mental health. Consider using a portion of your refund to upgrade your smartphone, take a trip to a new destination, treat someone special in your life or donate to one of your favorite organizations, because you only live once.
However you plan to use your tax refund or set finance goals this year, make a plan and stay consistent.