With summer still going strong, August is a good time of year to simplify, streamline and refresh your life. It's also an ideal month to replenish office and closet space with discounted back-to-school shopping finds.
While you're seeking relief from the summer heat, here are five easy moves you can make to help organize your home and fortify your wallet.
Earn cash from a garage sale
Summer is a great time to clean out your closet and sell old clothes and knickknacks collecting dust. Not only would you get rid of clutter, you might also score up to a few hundred dollars in sales. You could then use the money to pay down debt or bolster an emergency fund. You could donate any items that don't sell to a local charity and possibly receive a tax deduction.
Simplify savings accounts
In addition to organizing your closets, you could also organize your records. If you have different savings accounts spread across multiple banks and credit unions, it might make sense to consolidate your money into a single high-yield account. With a higher combined balance, you might receive a better interest rate.
Benefit from back-to-school shopping deals
During this time of year, many retailers advertise back-to-school shopping discounts on clothes, computers and school supplies. It's a good time to take advantage of sales.
Kathleen Lynch, a lawyer and the mother of twin boys in Cary, North Carolina, tries to maximize value by buying in bulk when back-to-school items go on sale. But she also takes stock of what she already owns to avoid unnecessary purchases.
"I reuse the boys' folders and binders from one year to the next, if they're in good shape," Lynch says. "I also keep a supply cabinet in my home office. It's filled with extras that I buy or hold on to that weren't used. The boys go there when they need more."
Even if you don't have children, this could be a good time of year to upgrade your electronics, since many retailers offer special late-summer discounts on laptops, desktop computers and mobile devices.
Maximize rewards cards
If you shop with credit cards, consider using one that includes great rewards or carries a low interest rate.
To simplify your finances, it may make sense to get a rewards credit card from the same bank or credit union that holds your checking and savings accounts. If your financial institution doesn't offer a rewards card, consider choosing a bank or credit union that provides all three financial products. (Here are two that do.)
Review college savings plans
With school starting soon, now is a great time to think about how you'll save for your child's college education, says Randall Reinwasser, a financial planner in Fountain Hills, Arizona. If you already have money in an account such as a529 college savings plan, it's also a good time to review how the funds are invested, he says.
Reinwasser suggests putting most of the 529 plan money in stocks if your child is at least five years away from entering college. "But if your child is already in college or just a few years away from starting, then most of the investments should be in more stable options such as cash and bonds," he says.
As you're enjoying the last few weeks of summer, consider taking time to simplify your savings, declutter closets and get a jump on back-to-school sales. Following these simple steps can help improve your finances and give your bank account a nice boost.