Spring Cleaning in my Personal Finances

Oh no! It’s that time of the year! I HAVE been putting this one off, HAVEN’T I !

So much so, that Spring has been sprung for so long, the coil has started to lose its elasticity and there is the distinct smell of Summer in the air.

I always manage to find a long list of lily-livered lame excuses to avoid this painful chore:

  • “I think I’ll clean out the garage”
  • “I’ll karcher the decking and get ready for the BBQ season”
  • “I’ll take the bins out to the recycling”
  • “I’ll empty the cat-litter instead” – My wife looks at me suspiciously: we haven’t even got a cat
  • My leg hurts. Pretty desperate, hey?

Hercules’ TO-DO list

You get my drift. You have to psyche yourself up for this Herculean Task. This should have been Number 13 on Hercules’ list:

              Thirteenth: Overcome Administrative Phobia

Phobia ?

A quick side-story: you may or may not have heard of the French ex-minister who suffered from an acute form of Administrative Phobia. To the extent that he only lasted about 2 weeks in office before being strongly invited to empty his desk, pack his bags, fetch his coat and was escorted out the back door. His case was a bit extreme, as it involved regular forgetfulness to pay his rent and taxes: not very exemplary for one in such a public position, you might say.

Getting back to the Herculean task in hand….

You just know that you are going have to sacrifice your Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning to do this. You could have treated yourself to a jaunt on your bike, donning the latest Vulpine Urban Cycling Apparel or emptying your mind of meaningless noise in your life during a brisk power-walk.

Taking stock of your current situation

This is indeed a thankless but necessary task. I really do hate it, but when I actually get down to doing it, I suddenly realise:

Nick, you’re such a loser! Why didn’t you do this last year? You bought that Electric Muscle Stimulator on the Teleshopping channel. You paid a yearly subscription that has just been renewed, so you’re committed for another year. You never use it and now you’ve flushed another 60 quid down the pan.

(I make a mental note to cancel that great investment asap).

You might as well face it, you’re addicted to……

Insurance Policies

I can also see that I made the oh so wise decision to take out insurance on all household hi-tech goods… when in reality, this is already taken care of by some other existing policy we already have. Let’s put that one on the list of soon-to-be ex-subscriptions, shall we? That’ll be 20 quid saved per month.

What on earth is this £5.30 per month I can see?

(I have to rummage around the archives in the back room.)

Oh, there it is! The leaflet for insurance in the event that someone steals, uses and abuses the phone line on my son’s smartphone. A telephone he had managed to damage beyond repair, only 6 weeks after getting it. A telephone that no longer existed. Insurance that was only valid for that phone, but is still running and I was needlessly donating my dosh to them. I’m such a selfless person. Or am I just an idiot?

(Note: must do online cancellation asap….)

Cancel Those Subscriptions…

I don’t believe it! I find another standing order for £4.99 for my other son’s phone for exactly the same kind of insurance, different insurance company. Ooof! We changed his phone only last month. The renewal is coming up next month, so this wise investment will only have been utterly useless for 3 months. Yeees! Just In Time to write that cancellation letter.

The more I wade through my bank statements, the more I am totting up wastage. I’m now in full swing and am beginning to like the idea of not donating my wealth to lost and futile causes, above all to insurance companies who are already rolling in it.

2 Netflix subscriptions: 1 for the family at home, a separate one for our son studying away is about to be turned into 1 Family subscription.

14.99  Health Insurance on the AMEX that I’ve been paying for the last few years suddenly seems overkill, as I already have Health Insurance elsewhere! A quick phone call, a short wait and that insurance is history!

It’s just dawned on us that in our youngest son’s bedroom, there is a pile of some unopened Junior Science magazine, still in the plastic transparent envelope. His passion has been turned towards the guitar for a while now. Time to cancel that subscription for £6.50 / month.

hen, chicken, feeding

Chicken-Feed ? I think not

This may seem like chicken-feed on the scale of things, but once you get a taste for reducing your outgoings, you’re then likely take a closer interest in your saving habits. Time to re-direct some of that wastage to other more worthwhile causes.

“Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.”

― Warren Buffett

From now on, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on the situation.

I have to confess to you that the above examples do go back a few years. Rest assured, since then, I have got my act together and I am more aware of our outgoings and less likely to find myself throwing our money away. I do this exercise once a year just to keep tabs on things.

Doing this kind of Spring Cleaning exercise is worthwhile, regardless of what season you are in.

Enjoy and Remember: Keep track of your outgoings, however modest your wealth might be.

How about checking out my post on “10 Tips To Survive A Crisis” ?

I would love to hear back from you. Don’t hesitate to leave your comments and I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can.

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