An illustration showing a typical financial to-do list

Between celebrating mom and Memorial Day barbecues, make some time this month to take care of financial tasks, too. That way, you can really enjoy your spring, knowing that your finances are on track.

If your home’s value has risen since you purchased it, you may be able to eliminate costly private mortgage insurance. This is also a good time of year to contribute to college savings accounts and apply for a travel credit card that you can use to save on summer travel.

Here’s what should be on your May financial to-do list.

Stop Paying PMI

If you bought your home for less than 20 percent down, you’ve probably been paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your loan, typically an extra 1 percent of the purchase price. 


However, the rise in home prices over the last few years has meant a rise in equity for homeowners with a mortgage of an additional 8.1 percent last year, according to CoreLogic.

If your equity position is now at least 20 percent of the original purchase price, you may not have to pay mortgage insurance anymore.

Contact your mortgage servicing company to see whether it can remove the PMI. You may have to pay a few hundred dollars for a new appraisal, but you could save thousands per year. PMI on a $300,000 home is about $3,000 per year.

Take Advantage of '529 Day'

The college savings industry has embraced May 29 as “529 Day,” an opportunity to remind parents of future college students of the benefits to saving in a tax-advantaged 529 college savings account. Some state plans are even offering promotions aimed at boosting saving on 529 day.

For example, savers who open a new ScholarShare account with California’s 529 plan between May 28 and May 31 and meet certain requirements will get a $50 matching deposit. Kansas’ Learning Quest 529 is running a contest that will make a $529 deposit to one saver who likes its Facebook page.

Even if your state plan isn’t running a 529 promotion, consider opening or adding to an account if you’re planning to help your children with college expenses.

Fewer than 1 in 3 parents saving for college uses a 529 plan, according to Sallie Mae, but it can be a valuable tool. Money put into a 529 plan grows tax-free, and you won’t pay any taxes on withdrawals used to pay for college. You can also use up to $10,000 tax-free for qualified K-12 expenses.

Dispose of Unneeded Financial Documents

This is a good time to weed out financial documents you no longer need.

How long you should wait before disposing of a document varies. You probably don’t have to keep ATM and bank-deposit receipts for more than a year. Retain loan documents until the debt is paid off and investment purchase confirmations until you sell.

Generally, you can chuck tax documents after seven years.

If you don’t have a shredder or you have too many financial documents to get rid of yourself, find out when your municipality is holding free shredding days.

Also, look into removing documents that are stored on your computer, external drives, and mobile devices. There are several ways to securely delete data from your computer, such as by using Eraser, a free software program for PCs. For your mobile devices, delete any unused apps.

Review Recurring Charges

Small charges can slip through unnoticed, especially if they're recurring fees for a service you keep meaning to cancel. But these small fees add up quickly.

Take a look at your most recent credit card statement and highlight any charges you could eliminate, like the gym you never visit. Contact the companies to cancel your subscription—and try your luck at requesting a refund for previous charges as well.

Technology can help streamline this process with free apps such as Truebill and Trim. If you’re willing to connect your bank account in exchange for the service, you’ll be able to automatically cancel subscriptions and receive refunds where possible.

Budget for Home Improvement Projects

May is a great time to find deep discounts on materials for the home improvement projects you plan to tackle this summer. Whether you want to install a new deck or update the siding on your home, you’ll save money if you make these purchases now, rather than in the middle of the summer.

Certain projects, such as replacing your deck and repairing your roof, are big undertakings that may require hiring labor as well. Saving money on the materials can go a long way toward stretching your budget.

Even if you aren’t quite ready to get to work, you can still measure how much roofing or decking you’ll need so that you can take advantage of the great sales this month, especially around Memorial Day.