Happy March! What are you most looking forward to with the arrival of spring? Maybe you're excited to enjoy the rising temperatures and perfect your March Madness bracket—or maybe you're not looking forward to losing that hour of sleep to Daylight Savings or facing off with your 2015 taxes.
The one upside we can all agree on is that spring cleaning season is the perfect time not only to clear your clutter, but also to scrub your financial life fresh. So shake off that winter frostbite and challenge yourself with these to-dos to help you power through March week by week.
1. Check Your Credit Score. Deadline: Monday, March 7
Chances are, grades don’t play a huge part in your life after high school and college—except for your credit score. This three digit number shows lenders how financially responsible you are and determines what interest rate you'll pay on your credit card balances, loans and mortgages. So if your credit score doesn't receive the proper attention, it can have a negative impact in several areas of your money life. Check your score for free on sites like Credit Karma to see if you're on track with your target number or if there's room to improve.
2. Do a Career Assessment. Deadline: Monday, March 14
As you begin to freshen up your home, it only seems right to do the same for your career. Angling for a raise? Want to beef up your networking circle? Assess your current role and request a one-on-one evaluation with your supervisor. As you prepare for the feedback you're about to receive, consider asking these get-ahead questions to keep your career development prospects on track.
3. Assess Your Total Debt. Deadline: Monday, March 21
Since we're in the spirit of spring cleaning, now is also the perfect time to tackle your debt. Spruce up your finances by reviewing your current credit card and loan situation, then start a game plan to pare down that number. That might involve creating a budget, using apps to help you manage your finances, automating your bills and deciphering the difference between good and bad debt.
4. Get Your Tax Documents In Order. Deadline: Thursday, March 24
Whether you’re hiring a certified tax preparer or plan on doing your taxes yourself, there’s nothing fun about paying Uncle Sam. Get ahead of this year's April 18th deadline by getting your paperwork in order now. Also make sure you know how your taxes might change if you passed a major life milestone, like getting married, bringing home baby or buying your first home.
5. Start a Travel Budget. Deadline: Monday, March 28
Now that the weather is warming, you might be daydreaming about your next vacation getaway. Wherever you plan on getting your R&R this summer, consider getting started on your travel budget. After you've pinpointed your destination, research and tally up how much your total costs might be—including transportation, lodging, food and activities. Then determine how much you'll need to save each month to reach your goal—and where that money will come from.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.