Start organizing your finances with these 8 steps

June 22, 2021
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Woman Doing Finances at Home

Organizing your finances is a multi-faceted task that is easier than it sounds. Most financial advice focuses more on managing your finances, but that assumes that you know what's where and to be paid when - if you catch my drift. The crucial step is to rid yourself of the clutter and get your finances organized. Managing your money is just one aspect of it.


8 Steps to organizing your finances


Consider going electronic


It is beneficial to go electronic in this paperless age, even if you still keep the paper. Once you are done with the initial set-up and get the hang of it, it's much faster than organizing the "old-fashioned" way. Another great perk is that electronic organizers take up a lot less space.  


Most banks, utility providers, and other types of businesses already issue bills electronically. If you're haven't opted for this option yet, ask your bank or utility provider about it. It's typically fast, convenient, and free.


If that option is not available, there is a solution. Buy an inexpensive scanner, which will then allow you to scan your printed bills and receipts into whatever software program you're using. Thanks to technological advancements, you can get document scanners as mobile applications too. A quick search on your applications store will give you both free and affordable options.


Also, consider setting up an automated payment to your creditors. This will save you time that would have been spent out and about, paying bills. Alternatively, take advantage of paying the bills online. Most creditors and utility providers do provide for this option.


Choosing a Filing System


Whether you want to go electronic or not, you need a basic filing system for your monthly bills, receipts, financial statements, etc. A filing system works best when you coordinate your filing efforts with a calendar or organizer. You can set up reminders for payment due dates on your digital calendar.


There are several methods for filing. Choose one that resonates with you. These methods include:


  • You can file by month, which works fine if you do not have too much paperwork of bills and receipts to organize.


  • Color-coding - (if you're more of a visual person, color-coded files are probably for you). Assign a different color for each expense, creditor, debtor, or income stream.


  • Subject or category - (use broad categories such as "credit cards" and "utility bills," or create a separate filing category for each of your creditors and income sources.


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Act swiftly


If possible, open the bills and other financial correspondence as soon as you receive them. Filing the documents right away will save you time in the short to medium term.


The last thing you want is to wait several weeks to do your filing, only to spend hours sifting through a massive pile of paperwork on your desk, separating receipts from bills. 


Now that you have some ideas for organizing your finances, you're on the road to a neater filing cabinet. You can say goodbye to the frustration and waste of time digging through piles of paper.


Depending on the current state of organizing, this may take some time. Be patient, though, with a bit of due diligence; your financial records will be in no time. Remember, it's not how fast you get everything done. The important thing is, you'll finally be able to easily find a receipt or bank statement right when you need it.


Now, to the nitty-gritty part of organizing your finances


Keeping a Budget


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According to a Gallup poll, about 70% of Americans do not keep a budget. Kudos to the 30% who keep their finances organized! The simplest way to manage your finances is to have a written budget that considers all of your incoming money and outgoing expenditures weekly, monthly, and yearly.



It's easier to manage your finances when you can measure them. If your outgoing cash flow is equal to or greater than your income, you have to either cut costs or develop another source of money hitting your pocketbook.


When you write out a budget, you can see whether some activities' financial costs can continue long-term, e.g., monthly outings with friends, date night every week, joining a gym, etc. Perhaps you can still enjoy the company of your friends, but not as regularly, and that single move could give your budget some much-needed breathing room.


Pay Yourself First 


It is essential to save 10% to 30% of everything you make. Take this money out before you pay your monthly bills. People who put this financial organization tip into practice are often amazed at their ability to save money while still paying their bills when they have never saved money before. Even better, make this commitment a line item in your budget. Financial planners recommend having at least 6 to 12 months of living expenses saved up, and this financial health tip will get you headed in that direction.

 


Eat Out Less


If you eat out frequently, you are likely doing your physical and financial health a disservice. Preparing your meals at home can make you healthier and help you save money.


Have a Yard Sale


Cleaning physical clutter and unneeded possessions from your life gives your budget a break. It also helps you organize and de-clutter your physical environment at the same time.


Seek Professional Help


Certified and licensed financial planners can help you organize and benefit from orderly financial behaviors. Don't be of the mindset that you don't have enough finances to justify paying a professional planner. A pro can help anyone organize his or her finances, whether you are wealthy or just scraping by.


Organizing your finances will give you peace of mind and clarity and provide you with opportunities to save or even make more money. There's no need to do all the steps at once. You can implement one at a time and enjoy the benefits.


 



Zee

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