Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to bring out the flats and flip-flops, throw on a sundress and take a stroll outside in the sunshine. Spring is also a great time for cleaning; not only your home, but also your finances. So you’ve set a budget and possible some financial goals for the year, and now we’re already through the first quarter of 2014. It’s time to re-evaluate!

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to begin tidying up your finances:

  1. Have you achieved any of your goals so far? If not, have you made some progress towards said goals?  If not, think about the reasons why you have not met these goals and consider how you could reach them in the future, whether it’s paying down your credit card debt or building up that emergency fund.
  2. Does your budget fit your lifestyle? If you are behind in your goals, perhaps you need to re-evaluate what your priorities are when it comes to spending your money. Are there different areas you can cut back in to balance your budget? Building a budget is a basic financial skill that will help you succeed in reaching your long-term financial goals.
  3. Are you consistently over-spending on the little things? If yes, try setting a weekly allowance for yourself.  Budget out your purchases and keep track of them with online banking if your bank offers it.  Spending $5 on coffee each morning adds up to $35 per week, more than $140 a month.  Ask yourself, is the Caramel Macchiato worth more than your future financial goals?
  4. Are you tracking your spending? If not, you should find a notebook and start writing down where your cash is going or use online tracking tools like Mint.  With all these tools at your disposal, there’s no excuse to be naive about your spending habits.
  5. Have you made a plan to achieve your financial goals? What are you waiting for – you will never achieve your goals if you don’t have a plan of attack!  Begin a savings schedule or talk with a personal banker about your best options for reducing debt. A goal without a plan is simply a wish.
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Answering these five questions will help you evaluate if you are on track with your finances. If your goal is to pay down your debt, then ensure that you’re taking the appropriate steps to make that debt balance decrease. Likewise, if your goal is to start investing, ensure you’re doing research on what you will be investing in.

If you’re like most of us, chances are there is something that eats away at your budget every single month. Maybe it’s groceries, coffee, or dining out. Whatever it is, you must take inventory of your life and finances, figure out what is causing you to spend so much on this specific thing and find ways to cut that cost down.

Many of us turn to our vices when we are having a bad day, got a bad exam grade back, or are having relationship troubles. Spending money makes you feel better temporarily, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Don’t let rough times in your life eat at your budget and cause further stress in your life.  It’s spring, time to freshen up your financial picture for a brighter future.