Get Your Personal Finances Organized
Great ways to not only help you get organized but get your financial house in order is to streamline your debts, change your spending habits and consolidate your various accounts. While it might seem time consuming, it’s relatively easy to get your personal finances in order.
Bank Accounts And Credit Cards
For starters, take out a piece of paper or type online and list all of your accounts in separate categories. Start with your bank accounts. If you have a savings account that’s only online because they offered a great interest rate and a separate checking at a nearby branch, list them. Also add your credit cards and write down your interest rates. Here’s a kicker you may not have thought about: the high interest you pay on one card might wipe out the interest you think you’re recouping with your savings account. Not to worry, the goal with tackling your banking and credit card accounts is that you may have too many and might be eligible for better deals if you have everything under one roof.
How To Address This: Contact your primary bank and ask about consolidating your accounts. Find out about transferring your credit cards and see if you can consolidate your cards into one primary card. They may let you do a transfer, but be sure to find out about the interest rate and available offers that your bank has. Keep in mind that this might be the perfect time to cut out credit cards for air miles if you don’t travel, or pick up a mileage card if you do. You may also want to tap into rewards cards that can give you cash back incentives especially if you do a lot of shopping.
Next, in another column, write out all of your insurance policies. Keep in mind this will include automobile, life, homeowner’s and apartment renter’s insurance. If you have insurance on a bike, jet ski or other equipment, add that, too. One area that might help is consolidating your accounts.
Changes To Make: Call and speak to your insurance rep(s) to see who can put together the best package for you. It may be that you save more with Geico, Allstate, Statefarm, Aflac or Progressive. Be sure to also seek out new offers.
Filing And Scheduling
Another area to tackle if you’re up for the task is to get organized at home and in the office. We include the office as it relates to organizing your finances because we know you have a drawer full of receipts or a folder at your desk. A great way to tackle this is to start at home and organize your office. Whether you want a paperless system or you want to continue to maintain a physical filing system, it’s important to get organized. Try these key tips:
- Folders: Create folders for the current year and the next year. Create labels for general receipts, tax receipts, medical, dental, work related, banking, utilities, etc.
- Bill payments: As bills come in, confirm that they were paid online or pay them. Make sure you’re paying on time to avoid late fees and file your receipts. After six months to a year you can shred these. For online accounts, you can easily access statements you need.
- Receipts: For your general receipts, only save these until the end of the year. This is in case you need to make a return or confirm a date. Your tax receipts go with your information for your accountant. Keep track of work receipts for your AMEX statement as your secretary likely emailed you several times about these already.
- Accounting: Keep in mind that a lot of accounting related work can be sent automatically. If you have Scottrade for example and you are doing your taxes through QuickBooks, Scottrade can automatically send your end of year statements to QuickBooks. Check with your accountant for other time and cost saving tips.
Apps To Help With Personal Finance
There are several apps to help you manage your finances and get organized. Be sure to check out Intuit’s Mint which is very popular and can help with budgets and savings tips. Digit helps you find money by doing things like condensing accounts and watching out for hidden fees. Credit Karma helps you to keep your credit score on track and alerts you to any suspicious activity, and Level Money tells you how much you have to spend based on the bills you need to pay and what’s in your account.
As you start to organize your spending and how your money is kept, you’ll find that consolidating accounts will save you time and money. Also factor in that you’ll get less mail and filing will be easier, especially if you’re using a paperless system. The ultimate goal is to keep track of your spending and know where your money is going.