Get Organized & Take Inventory!
Getting financially organized can help reduce stress and anxiety surrounding your finances. Cluttered finances are most commonly connected to individuals who incur late fees for missed payments or bank fees for insufficient funds. Both the result of poor spending habits, disorganization, and lost money.
Getting financially organized can seem daunting and overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be! Here are four financial tips to help you prioritize your finances and get organized!
# 1 – Take Inventory & Be in the Know
Gather all of your financial belongings and keep them in one place. Whether that be file folders, a spreadsheet, journal, notebook, or even using one of several phone apps and online platforms that serve as a digital financial file cabinet.
A recent article from The Balance features seven of the top personal finance phone apps that can be used to organize finances, develop a budget, and even how to pay down debt.
Having all of your financial belongings in one place will help keep you financially organized, allow access to balances before making purchases and keep you on track to make payments on time.
# 2 – Track Expenses & Know where your Money is Going
Keep track of your balances, monthly expenses, and deposits. Similar to calorie counting when you’re on a diet, sort your spending into different categories to get an idea of how much you’re spending for various items like housing, utilities, groceries, loan payments, dining-out, cell phone, insurance, and vehicle expenses. Go through your transactions or utilize a mobile app that can help do it for you. Know where all of your money is going each month. Look for patterns like days of the month you spend the most, or the places most of your money is going. This can help you adjust and redirect your spending each month.
Knowing your cash flow and where money is going each month is a critical step
in getting financially organized.
# 3 – Establish a System
From the way you pay your bills, to the way you check your balances, one way to create organization is to develop a system. Pick a day each month, for instance the first Friday of the month, to go through spending, check balances, set up payments, and look at your finances.
In developing a system, take advantage of benefits like auto-pay. For example, if you have payments due throughout the course of the month, pick a couple days throughout the course of the month for those transactions to occur automatically. Depending on how frequently you are paid during a month, you may pay half of your bills early in the month, and remaining payments come out toward the end of the month.
When payments are automated payments will be made on time and late fees will be avoided. When payments are automated and scheduled in advance, it is also important to remain mindful of your balances leading up to those dates to verify balances to avoid overdrafts from occurring. Ultimately costing you more fees.
It’s also important to check balances frequently to look for fraudulent activity, verify a payment or direct deposit has, or hasn’t occurred. Staying on top of your accounts needs to become a regular part of your week, or month. Beyond bank accounts, also be sure to review retirement accounts, debt and other types of account balances from time-to-time.
# 4 – No more paper statements!
With online and mobile banking access, there’s really no reason to receive paper account statements. All our account statements can be accessed online should we ever need them. For that reason, shred your old documents to significantly cut down on clutter and sign up for e-statements for all banking accounts, loans, credit cards, retirement accounts, et al. Even pay stubs and tax filing documents can be accessed online. So much of our financial world is securely stored somewhere, so why create additional clutter with unwanted papers piled up around the house.
Prioritizing your finances starts by using these four easy steps to take inventory and get financially organized. Once organized you’ll have a better understanding of your finances and can start to develop and work toward financial goals.
Alex Casella is a licensed financial professional with a comprehensive outlook on personal finance and helps individuals navigate important personal finance decisions. Alex can be reached at email@example.com or by visiting www.AlexCasella.com.