8 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Budget This Month

It's another new day and a good time for fresh beginnings. After all, it's also now Spring and a great season for cleansing and renewal. Don't beat yourself up if you haven't been too diligent with your money; here are some ways you can clean up your money mistakes:

  • File your taxes. Taxes are due in two weeks, so if you haven't yet already filed, it's time to get going. Start out this month on a good foot by not delaying important money tasks and risk facing potential penalties. If you're mailing your paper return, make sure you get it out in time for an April 15 postmark.
  • Look at how you're managing your money. Take some time to assess how you're managing your money. Sign up for a Mint account if you haven't already, and if you have one, try to figure out how to use it better.
  • Organize your documents. Now that tax season is almost over, make it easier on yourself for next year's taxes by getting more organized. Trash the ones you can do without and organize the ones you do have to keep in a proper folder.
  • Reset your passwords. When you're assessing your important accounts this season, protect yourself by resetting your passwords. You should be doing this regularly to lower the risks of getting hacked.
  • Check your credit report. If you haven't done so, get your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com just to get into the right mindset of staying on top of your finances and working on your credit score.
  • Negotiate rates. Try to negotiate lower rates by picking up the phone this month. Talk to your bank, cell phone provider, cable company, and more.
  • Fund your IRA. It's not too late to make your 2013 contribution to your existing traditional IRA or Roth IRA accounts. Although the contribution limit for 2013 is $5,500 ($6,500 for 50 and older), you don't have to meet the maximum. Put forward what you can, and remember, a little is better than nothing! And if you don't already have an account, there is still time to start one before the deadline.
    Be sure to tell the company that holds your IRA to consider the contribution for 2013, or they may mistakenly classify it for 2013. The same rules don't apply for your 401k — any money that goes into that account in 2014 can only count as part of your current year contribution.
    Funding a traditional IRA will give you an immediate tax break, but keep in mind that the Roth IRA won't offer an upfront tax break.
  • Boost or start your emergency fund. It's easy to forget about your rainy day stash when everything's going well, but remember to add more money to your emergency fund just in case things go sour. There are plenty of costly unexpected expenses that can happen, so have a healthy emergency account to buffer yourself against hard times.