Spring Clean Your Wallet

Spring has sprung my friends! The mercury is rising and we get to shed the layers we cocooned ourselves in, for what is by global standards, a pissy excuse for winter. The age old tradition of spring cleaning is great to rid ourselves of clutter in our homes, and our wallets as well.

That’s not to say you should dig into the depths of your wallet only once a year, but if it’s not a regular habit now is the time to start.

You don’t want to end up in an embarrassing scene like George Costanza And The Exploding Wallet.

Why, you ask?

Coupons aren’t just for your mum

When you become a grown up and have to fend for yourself, you realise just how expensive life is. So any help should be seized with both hands. Cutting the fuel vouchers off the bottom of your grocery receipt might give you a moment of thrifty pride, but does bugger all when you file them into a dark leather flap and forget they’re there.

So find the ones that are still valid and use them. Put them somewhere you will see next time you’re sucking gasoline. The same goes for loyalty cards. They are a great to have but you won’t reap any of their rewards if you don’t give them a work out.

The cards that time forgot

Remember that credit card you signed up for that one time because it promised blah blah? Or that high interest savings account you opened and promised you’d deposit a third of your pay into?

Apart from the fact that you should definitely be doing that last one, having accounts you don’t use generally means interest and fees you don’t need to be paying. Use these re-discovered cards as a reminder to sort your shit out and streamline your accounts.

Holiday money doesn’t work in real life

It’s cool you went on that epic once-in-a-lifetime trip, but all that pretty coloured souvenir currency is doing nothing for your finances and makes you look like a wanker for hanging on to it. Gather up all your non-domestic cash and head to a currency bureau/bank and convert it. I discovered Sri Lankan rupees don’t get you as much here, but at least it paid for a week’s worth of morning coffee.

The plan of attack

So, give yourself a solid 30 minutes and sit down at an empty table – glass/bottle of wine optional, but recommended – empty absolutely everything out of your wallet and begin to sift through the rubble.

Prioritise the contents into three piles:

  1. Things needed for life: Driver’s license, bank cards, Medicare etc. If you can’t figure this out this one you require more help than we can give.
  2. Good to keep: Loyalty & frequent flyer cards, gym or sport memberships, Red Cross Blood Donor Card (handy for figuring out your blood type, is a good thing to do and gets you free snacks).
  3. Throw away/burn: Expired coupons, receipts you don’t need, the ‘Buy 10 Coffees Get 1 Free’ card from that cafe you will never return to.

Now return piles 1 and 2 back into your wallet in a logical, ordered manner so that you actually utilise all the stuff you keep in there.

Then you can finish that bottle of wine, you deserve it.

Image: John, via Flickr