It also serves as an opportunity to take a good look at your finances. With the end of winter and the vacation bills paid, and the anticipation of milder weather and summer travel, you are in the middle of putting your money in order.
Below, personal finance experts evaluate three ways to clean up your personal finances this season.
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1. Get your taxes in order
With the tax deadline always in April, spring also means tax season. Now is the time to decide what to do to take a bow on taxes and leave them behind until next year.
If you are preparing pay a tax bill, determine how to cover the cost (paper check, credit, debit, or IRS payment plan), and, if you’re expecting to receive a tax refund, determine how you’ll use that windfall of cash.
“Consumers should think about what they would like to do with their tax refunds if they had one, whether it’s aiming for a savings goal or building an emergency fund,” Sasha Grabenstetter, accredited financial advisor at eMoney tells Select. Advisor. “Once they receive a refund – or not – they should determine how much tax is coming out of their paycheck and consider resubmitting their W-4 form to make changes for fiscal year 2022.”
And if you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you’ll have to jump over it as the April 18th deadline is fast approaching. Tax software such as TurboTax®, H&R Block®, Credit Karma Tax, and TaxSlayer® can help you file your state and federal returns quickly and accurately, while maximizing your deductions for a larger tax refund.
While you’re at it, avoid the rush to prepare tax documents next year by creating a “tax toolkit” now where everything is centralized in one place, suggests Marsha Barnes, a certified financial social worker who works with Wells Fargo and founder of The Finance Sbarra.
On the secure TurboTax site
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For simple tax returns only. See if you are eligible.
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2. Declutter your debt
In the spirit of cleansing, there is one thing we know that can make things messy pretty quickly: rising debt.
Now is the time to organize your debts in order of how you want to pay them off.
“Choose the debt with the lowest balance, the highest interest rate, or the one that gives you the most distress,” says Barnes. “There are no perfect rules where to start. It starts with a desire to increase your financial confidence.”
Regardless of which debt you choose to pay off first (or work to pay it off first), make sure your next step is to have a plan to pay off your remaining debt loads. For example, let’s say you have both outstanding credit card balances and student loans. A smart move would be to pay off credit card debt as soon as possible since then Credit cards have much higher interest rates, but then they have a plan in place to eventually move on to student loan repayments, especially since the federal student loan freeze is scheduled for the end of May 1.
In planning, borrowers should allocate funds for student loans to make sure they can make payments when the lockdown is over, advises Grabenstetter. You might want to consider using a student loan repayment app like Chipper that rounds up users’ daily change to steadily reduce student loan debt.
3. Prepare your summer budget
As summer approaches, you’re probably planning a much-needed vacation, plus any other activity in sunny weather.
Instead of waiting for June to arrive, prepare your summer budget a season in advance to help you get the most out of your money.
“Allocate more funds towards these goals in the coming months so you don’t have to lose it because your spending doesn’t allow it,” says Grabenstetter. She also suggests budget for the smaller things you end up buying, like sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, sunglasses, and beach towels.
And when it comes to making these purchases, use a credit card that returns you money or travel rewards for your expenses. Chase Freedom Unlimited® does both, offering cardholders a 5% refund on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (where cash, travel, gift cards and more can be redeemed), a 3% refund on purchases pharmacy and restaurant meals (including eligible take-out and delivery service) and 1.5% refund on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Enjoy 5% cash refund on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our world-class rewards program that allows you to redeem rewards for cash, travel, gift cards and more; 3% refund on pharmacy purchases and restaurant meals, including eligible take-out and delivery, and 1.5% on all other purchases
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (up to $ 20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $ 300 in cash. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on restaurants and pharmacies, and 3% on all other purchases.
0% for the first 15 months of account opening on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee
Introductory fee of $ 5 or 3% of each transfer amount, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. Thereafter, $ 5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee
Barnes adds that eager summer vacationers can also try a value-based shopping this upcoming season, using the first month of spring to brainstorm their summer wishes.
“Write these items or experiences on a piece of paper with the approximate costs next to it,” he explains. “In order of priority, put your top three experiences in your budget. Do your best to avoid forcing them to adapt. The overall goal of budgeting is to provide barriers, or financial security, around your money and habits.” .
This spring, tidy up your finances by making sure your tax burdens are cleared, your debt is arranged for repayment, and your summer travels are budgeted in advance.
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Editorial note: Opinions, analyzes, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editors only and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.