It seems hard to believe that we’re already entering the third month of 2017.

Christmas and the new year are now just a distant memory as many of us look forward to the summer and (hopefully) some warmer weather!

Unfortunately, whilst you’re looking forward, your finances may be holding you back.

You may still have some outstanding credit or store card debt from Christmas. You may just be struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Whatever it is, now is the perfect time to take action. Here are 5 top tips to spring cleaning your personal finances.

1. Create a debt repayment plan

If you’ve got debt in the form of credit cards, store cards or short term loans then this is your priority beyond anything else.

High interest debt very slowly decays your finances. You may feel like you’re taking steps to clearing it by paying the minimum balance each month, but in reality, you’re not.

Whilst you’re chipping away at the balance, interest is accruing. So whilst you may be paying off £20 a month, you’re getting charged £17 a month in interest. Because of this, it could take you years to get debt free.

You need to formulate a repayment plan. This may involve committing to paying off a certain amount each month. It could even mean taking out a loan to consolidate the debt.

2. Update your budget

If you haven’t visited your budget in a while, then it’s time to update it.

Historically, creating your budget would take a lot of time, patience and paperwork. Nowadays, it can all be done online.

Simply use a budget planner like the one on the Money Advice Service website. It may be helpful to have some recent bank statements or your online banking handy to help you fill in the fields.

Doing this will give you a better outlook of your current financial situation.

If you’re overspending on a certain area, your budget will highlight it. If you’re struggling to make ends meet your budget will highlight why.

3. Check Your Credit Report

There are several great reasons to get your check your credit report, especially if you haven’t done so for a while.

The first and perhaps most obvious is to check for fraud. Credit fraud is still happening in 2017 and it could be effecting your chances of getting approved for finance in the future. By checking your report, you can look for any unusual activity.

In addition, checking your report gives you visibility on your current score and indeed your future chances of obtaining credit.

For instances, say you were planning on taking out a loan for a large purchase such as a car or home improvements. Your first thought would probably be to apply with the cheapest provider. However, this may not be a wise move if you’ve got a low credit score as you’re unlikely to get approved.

Getting declined for credit may lower your score further which once again could influence prospective lender’s decisions.

By knowing your credit score, you can make an educated guess as to what sort finance products are available to you.

Summary

Early spring is a time that many will spend cleaning their homes, but it’s also a great time to tidy up your finances.

Set aside a few hours this weekend to spring clean your finances, you’ll be surprised just how good it can make you feel.