Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Founder of Consolidated Credit reminds consumers that 'budget' is not a dirty word. "Take a look at what your spending money on. Be honest, if you're wasting money spending frivolously now is the perfect time to buckle down and take control. Set up a realistic budget, one you'll be able to stick to."
"Budgeting is not easy and it doesn't happen overnight. It takes practice but it can be mastered--you just need to stay goal-oriented," says Dvorkin. "When you think of budgeting, picture yourself paying cash for a vacation, helping your kids through college, and enjoying a nice retirement."
Financial spring cleaning tips:
• Clear out the junk. It is much easier to be organized when there is less clutter. Put all receipts together and print out bank and credit card statements. Make a list of all debts including the account number, interest rate, outstanding balance, payment due date, credit limit and the minimum payment. This keeps things organized and prevents bills from being late.
• Review credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request a free credit report from the three primary credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Each bureau is obligated to provide a free credit report every 12 months. Verify that all information is accurate and if mistakes are found, contact the credit-reporting agency immediately. Rather than dispute the mistake via an online form, send a letter that includes complete name and address, a description of each item being disputed, an explanation of why it is getting disputed along with a request for deletion or correction of the information.
• Wipe out debt. Pay off high interest rate debts first. Once the high-interest debt is paid down, tackle the next highest, and so on. Continue paying the minimum due on all other debts.
• Don't hesitate to ask for help. There are reputable debt-counseling agencies that consolidate debt and teach individuals to manage their finances better.