Insights & Stories

Master Your Money with Financial Spring Cleaning

Reading time: 5 minutes

June 12th, 2023

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For many, spring cleaning means opening up windows, sweeping the dust out, and purging closets and pantries to make room for a fresher, cleaner, and happier home. But this type of sprucing up doesn’t have to be limited to physical spaces in your home. You can also tidy up your finances, especially if you're feeling stuck or if you don't have clear goals on your financial wellness road map.

Before spring ends, it’s not too late to take important steps that'll help you master your money. By reviewing your personal finances, setting realistic goals, sticking to healthy spending habits, and managing debt, you'll be able to make a budget, save, and invest your money to achieve your financial goals. Here are some financial spring cleaning strategies and money management tips to help you get started.

Assess your finances and set goals

You can’t get where you want to go without first knowing where you are. Before you set a plan in place for your money, it's important to assess your current financial health. Begin by reviewing key factors, such as:

  • Your income. How much money do you earn each month after taxes? Ideally you’re spending less than you earn. Keep the 50/30/20 rule in mind: 50% of your funds should go towards needs, such as housing and utilities. 30% should go towards wants, such as hobbies and dining out. 20% should go towards savings and paying off debt.
  • Your credit report, which can alert you to any outstanding debts, your debt-to-income ratio, and your bill payment history that helps determine your credit score. (To get your annual free credit report authorized by law, visit
  • Your savings, which includes everything from your retirement accounts to simply having a six-month emergency fund set aside to cover your monthly bills in case of unforeseen life events.
  • Your debt, whether from a mortgage, credit cards, student loans, or medical bills. If possible, prioritize paying off debt with high-interest rates first. (Consider consolidating high-interest debt through a personal loan with a lower interest rate.)

Once you take inventory of your financial situation, you'll be in a better position to determine whether or not you're meeting your money goals and what areas you need to focus on. For example, if tackling debt is your biggest priority, consider consolidating high-interest debt with a personal loan that has a lower interest rate. If you’re concerned about retirement, consider options such as a certificate of deposit (CD), a separate savings account, or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to help you save more.

Use healthy spending habits

For many Americans, the issue isn't about spending money, it's about how to spend money wisely. Developing healthy spending habits can help you understand how much money is available to you, optimize the best methods to spend (or save) money, as well as improve your financial future overall.

For example, you can cancel unnecessary recurring monthly purchases, such as unused gym memberships or subscriptions for magazines you don't read. Or perhaps you could pack lunch to take to work instead of eating out every day. At the grocery store or the mall, employ smart shopping tactics: Can you save money by purchasing some household items in bulk, such as toilet paper and canned foods? Are there generic alternatives that are less expensive than name brand items, or sales and coupons that can help you save? Can you avoid impulse purchases by making a list of what you need before you go? (Keep in mind that buying something you don't need just because it's on sale doesn't save you money.)

Create a realistic budget for your household and stick to it. Track your spending to see where you can potentially cut back. Be wary of “buy now, pay later” payment options and avoid frivolous impulse purchases. Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees. Small habits and budgeting tips like these can add up to big savings over months and years—and it can help you become better informed and more mindful about your money.

Manage (and tackle) debt

Debt comes in many forms. It’s important to understand the difference between good debt that creates value and helps build your wealth, such as securing a mortgage for a home or taking out a student loan to attend college, compared to bad debt which is spent on items that lose value, such as racking up credit card debt. Understanding debt and your payment options can help you minimize your monthly expenses or get out of debt.

Maximize your money

Regardless of how much you have saved, it’s best to make the most of your money. Certain types of accounts, such as savings accounts or CDs, can earn you more money each month with higher rates of interest and other benefits, such as no monthly service fees and interest payments. Saving money in this way can create compound growth for your personal finances, where you receive interest on both your original investment as well as interest you accrue over months and years.

Bank of Hawaii has a team of knowledgeable, local experts that can help you master your money and offer specific products to consolidate debt, build your savings, and more — connect with us today.

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