Spring Cleaning Checklist: Organizing My Finances

I think it’s safe to say (knock on wood) that spring has finally arrived here in Toronto! All the snow has melted, I’ve put away my parka and snow boots, and I can actually walk outside without wearing a pair of gloves!

This winter has been beyond brutal for this born and bred west coaster. Then again, the one good thing about living in this city is that you can actually tell the difference between the seasons. In Vancouver it gets slightly warmer from June – September, but otherwise it’s just 12 months of grey skies and downpour.

In Toronto, as soon as winter is over the sun comes out in full force, it actually gets hot (I can’t remember the last time it was hot enough in Vancouver to wear shorts or go without a sweater), and rooftop and backyard patios start popping up everywhere!

Since winter is finally over, I really want to get a head start on my spring-cleaning checklist, especially when when it comes to my finances. As I’ve mentioned before, my HB and I are in the midst of switching banks and there is quite a bit of work to do. Here are a few ways I’m going to organize my finances that you may want to consider to!

1. Change my last name on all of my bank accounts and credit cards

Yes, I know my one-year wedding anniversary is quickly approaching, but I still haven’t gotten around to changing my last name on most of my bank accounts and credit cards. It hasn’t really bothered me since I feel like I’m living a double life anyway by keeping my maiden’s name for this blog and using a different last name in my personal life.

But it’s gotten to a point where it’s just confusing and I need to just dedicate a weekend to changing everything over once and for all. Word to the wise, if any of you are thinking about changing your last name, it’s the biggest hassle in the world.

2. Get rid of some of my credit cards for good

I have way too many credit cards. I have an AMEX, a VISA, two Mastercards, and will be getting two more Mastercards when I switch banks (more on that below). I never use my AMEX (it’s a Costco AMEX, and if you remember my rant post a while back, I’m not a fan), my VISA is a Scotiabank SCENE VISA which I only use when I buy movie tickets (so about 3 times a year), and there is no way I’m carrying around 4 different Mastercards in my wallet!

Why do I have so many credit cards you ask? Because I’ve never cancelled a credit card in my life. I’ve just read too many articles about how it can lower your credit score, and I’m really worried about mucking all that up by cutting up one of my cards. Well, after talking to our financial advisor and reading this helpful article on Mint, I’m just going to go ahead a do it. My HB and I don’t have any plans to take out a loan any time soon, and I know by closing some of my unused credit cards it will be a big help in decluttering my life.

3. Switch banks and stop using debit

If you remember my post about money quirks and banking habits, I was really on the fence about switching banks because it would essentially require me to wean myself off debit and learn to use credit as a day-to-day payment method. And no cash is not an option because if it’s in my wallet, I will spend it.

I’ve never had any bad experiences with credit cards personally, but I still think they are just downright evil. They’ve just steered so many people I know wrong, and I’m afraid if I start using mine regularly it will be a gateway drug into shopaholicism! I know, that’s completely ridiculous, but that’s just how I feel.

That all being said, the last meeting my HB and I had with our financial advisor, I decided to move forward with moving some of my accounts to the institution and getting a new credit card to wave the banking fees. In the end, it does make the most sense. Credit cards are more secure to use than debit, I can accrue points which equals free money, and it’s probably a good idea for me to get over my fear of credit cards once and for all.

The reason I mentioned above that I’d be getting two new Mastercard’s is because one would be for my personal use, and one would be a joint credit card for my HB and I to use for groceries and bills.

4. Redo my budget to better reflect my spending habits and savings goals

Over the past month or so I’ve noticed a change. And not a good change. I admit I have a fairly strict budget because I love to aggressively save, but lately I’ve been noticing it’s just not working. I’m not giving myself enough money to spend on myself and always end up dipping into my savings account.

It’s not that I’m spending a ton of money of material things or entertainment, but it’s just a coffee here, a lunch there, and when it all adds up it’s more than my budget is allowing. I’m making more money at this job than at my previous one, so I think I need to loosen the purse strings a bit.

 What’s on your spring-cleaning checklist? Do you need to do a finance/budget overhaul this season?

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