Since April 15th will be here before you know it, it brought to mind that you might need some Quick Tips for A Better Space when it comes to your finances:
If you are going to organize any one aspect of your life, I believe the most important is your finances. If your finances are not in order, it can literally cost you money and may jeopardize your credit score. That's very important and should not be ignored. Using the following tips will reduce your chances of this happening:
1) All in one place.
By keeping all of your financial records and files together in one place, you are on your way to getting organized. If you can't find your bills, you can't pay them on time!
Create one central location for all of your pending bills. It can be a folder in a cabinet, a bin in your home office, a bill paying secretary (this is an accessory which sits on your desk top and has dividers in it for all 31 days of the month - not a person sitting on your desk paying your bills for you!) Check this file once a week to ensure that you don't miss any deadlines.
When new bills arrive, discard the outer envelope and all of the useless inserts. Put the bill and the return envelope into your Pending Bill file. I suggest paying your bills 10 days ahead of their due date. (These days, that doesn't give you much time, so plan ahead!)
2) Set yourself a schedule to pay bills and stick to it.
Select a time every week that is convenient for you and when you can have some peace and quiet without being interrupted.
3) Balance your checking account.
Although we all hate to do it, it's necessary. However, if you balance your account on a regular basis--such as every time you pay bills--it will drastically cuts down on how far back you'll have to go to find a mistake.
If you use an online service to check your balance, you won't have to wait for your paper statement to arrive in the mail. Also, if you use a system such as Quicken to keep track of your checking account, you can save yourself time and errors as well.
And, check your checking account balance often. How many checks do you write? How many deposits do you make? You may want to check your account as often as once a day to once a week. This is especially important if more than one person is using the account. This will help avoid those surprise ATM withdrawals that didn't get posted in your account register in time. And list them chronologically! It's so much easier to keep track of them that way.
4) Try direct deposit.
There are products out there that can make your life easier, such as direct deposit. Just think, it will avoid your having to go to the bank to deposit your check, which will save you time and gas money. Also, did you realize that direct deposits will often end up in your account before paper checks are given out!
5) Consider online bill paying.
Online bill paying is another great way to save yourself time and money! Rather than having to sit there and write a check, put a stamp on the envelope (more money) and hope that it gets there on time, you can simply visit the company's website and make an online payment. These days with all of the mail theft out there, it's actually much safer to pay your bills online.
Once you make a payment, make sure you print a copy of the confirmation for your records. If you prefer to pay bills only a couple of times a month, most companies will allow you to schedule your payment in advance and it's processed on your due date. It doesn't get much easier than that!
6) Change your due date.
Contact your credit card company and request a due date in a specific part of the month. This way you can count on when the payment will be made based upon your particular financial circumstances.
7) Consolidate your accounts.
One way to simplify your finances is to eliminate any unnecessary accounts you may have. If you have an extra savings, checking, money market or investment accounts, consolidate them. Even if there are minor fees associated with closing out accounts, it will be worth it. You will not have to spend so much time keeping track of all those accounts, statements, etc.
8) Don't keep what you don't need.
You know all of those thick booklets you receive in the mail from brokerage houses? Those annual reports, etc. for stocks, bonds, investment accounts. Unless you love reading them (Is there anyone who loves reading through or deciphering these reports aside from my dad?), toss them. You don't need them. It just becomes clutter!
9) Make sure someone you trust knows about your financial picture.
Select someone who you trust and make them knowledgeable about what accounts you have and how to access these accounts. Tragedies do happen. Don't leave your loved ones in the dark as to how to sort out family finances in the event you're unable to.
Create a list of the company names, phone numbers, website addresses, account numbers, usernames and passwords and put it in a safe place for them to access if need be. It's also a good idea to check this information every quarter to make sure it's up-to-date. You can also file a copy of this information with your Will.
10) Make sure you have a Will.
The most important step you can possibly take to organize your finances is to have a current Will. Don't leave your loved ones with a huge financial mess. If your estate is very simple, purchase a software package that will allow you to create a simple Will in the privacy of your own home in less than an hour. For a more complicated estate, please consult an attorney. You don't want to create chaos for your family. It's best to insure that your wishes will be followed. Don't put it off! You just never know...
The moral of the story in reference to organizing your finances is to develop a plan that works best for you. Everyone's situations are different and what works for one person or family may not work for someone else. And, when you find a system that works for you, be consistent. Develop a consistent schedule and follow it.
Remember, this is the one area of your life in which you can't afford to be disorganized. By taking the simple steps listed above, you will be on your way to organizing your finances in no time and creating A Better Space!
For more information and assistance on this topic or any organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you reach your goals for organization and make your place A Better Space.
Have a great week!