Spring Clean Your Finances: 5 Tips From Money Pros

Jacqui Kenyon

99672892aChase Blueprint
Spring is almost here, and those seasonal cleaning duties—sweeping the garage, clearing out the gutters, washing the windows—are probably nagging at you.

But if you’re like many Americans, it’s more important to focus on spring cleaning your finances this year.

Why, you ask?

According to a nationwide survey conducted by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint®, about 50% of U.S. adults between the ages of 25 and 54 regularly worry about money—and 40% feel that they lack control of their finances.

Given these eye-opening stats, we asked five experts to share their best advice for getting your finances in shape this spring—from educating yourself about money to starting the journey toward being debt-free.

Money Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Get Everyone on the Same Page

Monica Kaden, an accredited senior appraiser and principal at Fischer Barr & Wissinger, LLC, says that spring cleaning needs to start with dividing up the workload. “Typically, in a couple or a family, there’s one person who handles the household finances,” she says. Her advice is to have the other spouse—and even older children—sit down with the person who handles the bills, budget, and important financial documents, so that multiple people are knowledgeable about the household’s finances.

This way, family members can bounce ideas off of each other for reducing spending and finding room in the budget for more savings. Kaden suggests making a checklist of the family’s finances—including the budget, bank and investment accounts, where important documents are stashed, and a balance sheet—that everyone can reference, and then figure out who will take care of each task. Even teenagers can help by managing their own checking accounts or researching college loans.

Money Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Take Inventory of Your Possessions

Getting organized is half the battle when it comes to spring cleaning. If your home was to succumb to a fire, earthquake, flood or other catastrophic event, would you be able to account for everything—including how much you paid for the big-screen TV and your favorite leather armchair—so your insurance company could properly reimburse you?

“Insurance companies try as hard as possible to pay out the least possible,” Rachel Sanborn, a certified financial planner at LearnVest Planning Services, says. So it’s important to keep a record of the items in your home—particularly the most expensive ones—including photos of the items and their receipts.

Some websites offer online checklists to help guide you in creating your inventory. Sanborn even found an iPhone app—Know Your Stuff—for tackling this task. Added tip: Be sure to store a copy of your final inventory in a spot that’s readily accessible outside your home, like an online Google Doc.

  • anonymous

    It is a true shame to see opinion based statements in these articles, rather than proven statements with evidence to support them. I am specifically referring to the statement made by Rachel Sanborn, that insurance companies ALWAYS try to pay as little as possible. Are we to assume she has evidence that supports this, based on every single insurance claim ever filed? I was victim of a burglary several years ago, and my insurance company went above and beyond replacing what I lost. I suggest she research first, then make statements only after. What a shame for Learnvest to allow their company to be represented by such lazy panel members. 

    • Di

      I understood this to mean have a larger deductable and pay less for your insurance premium. That is what I do. 

    • anonymous

      Always remember news articles are edited – quotes may be taken out of context or used slightly differently than they were intended.

  • Alexis Greenwood

    I am a little disappointed by the glowing generalities that are presented in this article. I am a huge LearnVest fan and I read almost everything that is sent to me via the newsletter. I have even considered leaving the west coast to come work there! However, sometimes the writing lets me down. I see a huge assumption about teenagers subtly stated in this comment: “Even teenagers can help by managing their own checking accounts or researching college loans.” Teenagers should absolutely be doing these things, at bare minimum. Why are young people not expected to manage their own finances, and contribute to the household? My mother told me when I was fourteen, “If you want something other than what you’ve got, go get a job.” I have managed my own checking and savings account since then, and I paid rent the first (and last!) summer that I came home from college. If that sounds tough, consider that as a nation, we just don’t expect much from our youth. Raise the bar. Among my peers, I am drastically more successful and organized because I was expected to be, from a young age.

  • Kevin F

    The Rethink your insurance section does not specify what type of insurance.  I assumed it was life insurance until I read 2nd paragraph which appears to be talking about homeowners insurance.  It wasn’t until the 3rd paragraph that I had to guess based on the info provided that the writer is talking about auto insurance. Some clarity is needed in the section header to better inform your readers.