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 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 decluterring 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 Mastercards 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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Showing 23 comments
  • Reply

    Great list! I need to do some financial cleaning as well. I have a couple cards I want to close just to be rid of them but since we’re thinking about purchasing a home soon, I’ve been hesitant to do that.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Well, I guess it depends on how soon you depend on buying. We’re not going to buy anything for at least a few years so it should be fine.

  • Michelle
    Reply

    I need to change my last name too! It’s such a pain in the ass! UGH. Part of me just wants to keep my name as is!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Same! But it’s sort of late for that considering I’m married and already told my HB I’d switch haha.

  • Anneli @thefrugalweds
    Reply

    Fun! I bet it’s gorgeous in Toronto this time of year 🙂
    I can’t complain much in LA – we’re having amazing weather!
    Good reminder to do some financial cleaning for spring! For your credit cards – does the AMEX have an annual fee? If not, I would just keep it in a sock drawer somewhere instead of closing it. AMEX is good to have credit score-wise but if it does have an annual fee, I’d ask them to change it to one without. Maybe the Amex Blue Sky?
    Anywho, good luck with the spring cleaning!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      None of my cards have an annual fee. I just really want to get rid of my AMEX though. I never use and it’s never really come in handy.

  • Cait Flanders
    Reply

    Great post, Jess! You and your finances are going to be busy 😉

    No major overhaul here. I’m anxious for April to be over, so I can get back to some more normal spending/saving habits. Although, next month I need to renew my passport, so maybe the spending never ends, lol.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Ugh, I need to get a new passport too with my married name. I remember it being a big hassle but just another thing I need to get done this spring.

  • Reply

    Yay warm weather!! I know Toronto can get very hot because I’ve been there in the summer. Very similar to where I grew up in Detroit. I need to cancel just a couple of credit cards. I heard if they are fairly new and you have a good credit to debt ratio (I think that’s the term) you barely notice a hit if one at all. Important to keep those long standing cards. But I don’t want to pay tons of annual fees either. Good luck on your cleaning!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      That’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to keep my longest credit card (I think I’ve had it for 7 years now), and then get rid of the newer ones.

  • Marie @ 724 Credit
    Reply

    It’s summer here now in our country. Yes I save money from the expenses of my child’s school. But have to spend more at home because will have to feed my nephews too since they had summer vacation here in our place.

  • Jen @Sprout Wealth
    Reply

    Agree to all that is in the check list! I believe it would do me good to do some spring cleaning on my finances too. And oh, I share the same thoughts with you about credit cards and I admire those who own one but are so disciplined in using it.

  • Reply

    Great list. My husband and I recently changed banks. It’s a good thing to look over bank policies to make an informed decision. On my list…preventative home maintenance.

  • Martin
    Reply

    I’m looking to cut a few subscriptions. I also plan on spending more money to invest in myself a little more.

  • Reply

    Great list, Jessica! It’s awesome to take a closer look at all of these things and make the necessary changes. It’s been a while for me, but I made a crazy amount of changes over the past two years, so I don’t mind hanging back a little. Keep up the good work!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so if you don’t see any reason to change anything, then there’s no reason to change anything just for the sake of it.

  • debt debs
    Reply

    I canceled a credit card recently that I only had for a year and never used. I was talked into taking it when I tried to cancel my AMEX. Dumb, I know, I was under a lot of stress at the time and didn’t know which way was up. I wonder what it has done to my credit score.

    Have you ever paid to get your credit score, Jessica? I’m thinking I should do it based on something on J Money’s, BudgetsareSexy site. Saw your teleprompter story there too BTW!

    Sad news about Flaherty.

    Ya, that’s about it. Sorry for the all-over-the-map comment.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      I haven’t paid to get my credit score. I just don’t think there’s a need until I want to take out a loan which won’t be for many years. I know my credit’s good since I’ve never been late on a payment so I’m not too worried. And ya, crazy about Flaherty! Retired then dead after a month! That sucks!

  • Erin @ Gen Y Finances
    Reply

    My spring financial cleaning list includes:

    1) Update basic budget for updated income numbers.
    2) Figure out if I want to cancel my Amex card before the annual fee is charged.
    3) Hit the spending number to get the signup bonus on my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

    Pretty straightforward stuff. Good luck changing your name on all of your stuff — you’re right, it’s such a pain in the ass!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Ya, a big pain. Ugh. I know I’ll have to dedicate a weekend to figuring it all out but once it’s done I won’t have to do it ever again which is good.

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