Folks --I'm drafting a short piece offering tips on organizing your financial life. I welcome any tips from you folks, too -- please consider yourselves invited to share any ideas here.Thanks!Selena
I only have one - automate anything that matters because then you really don't have to be very organized otherwise.rad
1] Use Quicken or Money.2] Sign-up for as many automated payments as you can.3] Pay online as many of the rest as you can.4] Pay everything the day it comes in.5] File those bills away and keep them for five years.6] Remember: Pay Yourself First.
As hard as it can be, tracking ALL of your expenses for a period of time (at least a month, two or three is better) to see where your money is actually going. Then you can take steps to have it align with your goals (I'm sure someone else will write about goals).
Set up automatic deductions for investments and savings.
For those who still use a paper register for their checking account. Start a new register on January 1. That makes it easier to file the register with your tax records at the end of the year.Also, if you have trouble remembering to use the new year when writing checks, I usually write the new year on all the checks left in the checkbook. By the time I'm through the checks, the new year seems normal.Of course, I now pay most of my bills online and only write about five checks a month, so this seems a little antiquated to me now.
tips on organizing your financial life...I used to be terribly disorganized. I actually had my electricity cut off twice because I couldn't remember to pay the bills. I paid a lot of late fees in those days.Franklin Planner was my saviour. I took a look at my bills and found they could be divided into 2 piles: those I could pay on the 15th and those I could pay on the 1st. I made a reminder page for myself listing all bills I would/could receive and the day of the month they should be paid. Each time I put another month's pages into the planner, I made a note on those "Pay Dates" to tell me what bills to pay. In the back of the planner I had a zip lock pouch containing stamps, return-address stickers, and extra envelopes. When I received bills, I would just put them in the front of the planner. Every day at work, I opened the planner on my desk and left it there. When a "Pay Date" arrived, I would pull the bills out of the front of the planner, write the checks, put stamps and a return-address stickers on the envelopes, and mail the payments. If I didn't have the bill (lost in the mail or by me), I would know to call the company and get the information to pay the bill on time. This saved me when I had a cable company that occasionally didn't send bills on time, but cut off service if they weren't paid on time.After a few years of this, paying on time was a habit. Later, I discovered the joys of automatic payments: having the electric and telephone companies draft on my bank account. I still received the bills early enough, so I could call if the amounts were wrong--they never were.Now I'm in the online banking phase of my financial life. My cell phone bill and toll road fees are billed directly to my credit card (so I can get the rewards!). I've set up my bank account to pay my car insurance and telephone bill upon receipt of online bill presentments. My bank automatically sends out a check for my health insurance at the end of each month. When I receive credit card bills, I access my account and schedule the payment then. To protect myself in case I forget, I've set up my account to automatically pay the minimum on credit card bills upon receipt of online bill presentment. I even schedule transfers from my savings account the day before payments, if necessary.Hope this helps,Karen
When I charge something on a credit card or use an ATM, I place the receipt in my checkbook (sort of where the ledger fits into the checkbook cover...).Then when my credit card statement comes, I verify amounts and toss/shred the receipts.
If you are starting with basics, my financial organization rest on the bedrock ofa deskwith a file drawernext to a wastebasket.REader99fundamental
One thing that really helps is to have two file folders:Unpaid billsPaid billsAmazing how that simplified my life!These days, the "paid bills" file is labeled "Taxes year 200x" and takes three 2-pocket folders.Vickifool
These days, the "paid bills" file is labeled "Taxes year 200x" and takes three 2-pocket folders.That sounds like I have a lot of bills! <grin> We also keep all of our receipts (divided by type) and financial account statements. And one pocket is income.Vickifool
1. Do not make things more complicated than they need to be. For instance, does a person really need 8 credit cards? I have 3, 2 of which I use on a daily basis. That's it. There are consequences to cancelling cards, etc. but simplifying the number of cards has been important.2. I pay bills every week. I couldn't do the 2x a month or once a month thing that my mom does or other people. I would forget to mail them or something and if I pay them every weekend and mail them off on Monday or Tuesday, they aren't ever late and I keep track of my finances and budget every week.3. Use Quicken or Money to keep track of accounts, assets, etc. I've been using Quicken since 1990 and with all its faults, it is helpful4. Have a central place for all your major accounts - statements, terms and conditions, etc.5. Balance your checkbook, savings accounts, credit card statements every month without fail.6. Once a year, do a financial checkup and evaluate short-term and long-term financial goals and how you are progressing toward that goal. -b-
Keep a master list of accountsIf you're not afraid of it being stolen keep it in your planner or PDA.Otherwise keep it in your desk or in a database in your computer. In any case let your loved ones know where to find it.On it put:Company NameAccount NumberOpening DateI usually add:Phone number to contact companyA checkmark when I've requested they not share my nameOnline username & passwordIf you include the due dates you can use this as a list to make sure you've gotten all the bills you're supposed to. You can also use this list to make sure you've gotten all of your address changes when you move. And you can have it on hand when you're checking your credit report.At a bare minimum this list should contain all of your obligations (credit cards, student loans, mortgage). I use it for any financial account, including bank accounts, insurance companies and the like.Similarly, keep a master list of your addresses. Every once and a while you need to know a list of all of you past addresses.- Megan
Pay everything the day it comes in.I actually disagree with you there.I have dial-up, so it takes me some time to dial-up, log in, get to NetBank, log-in, etc.I open mail daily, and all bills are stacked on my laptop (after I throw out the garbage, envelopes, etc.)At least once a week, (or when I happen to go on-line for whatever reason) I log-in and pay a bunch all at once. No bill comes up so fast that waiting a week causes issues.
Thanks for all this good advice, folks! Any more tips are welcome, though you've already given me plenty of excellent suggestions.Selena
Selena,Here's a very simple, but important tip:Keep a file folder (red, green, yellow, purple, anything to make the file stand out) for stock transactions! Keep this folder separate from your monthly/quarterly statements. List (perhaps in a simple table format):Brokerage NameAccount NumberLocation of Monthly/Quarterly Statements: file cabinet, shoe box stuffed in closet, etc.Date Stock PurchasedNumber of Shares BoughtPrice of Each ShareDollar Value of SharesCommission PaidDividends ReceivedStock SplitsDate Sold (or date stock was donated)Number of Shares SoldPrice of Each ShareDollar Value of SaleCommission Paidetc.This will make taxes a little less stressful.-Mona
Folks --I'm drafting a short piece offering tips on organizing your financial life. I welcome any tips from you folks, too -- please consider yourselves invited to share any ideas here.Thanks!Selena Thank god, I've been waiting for this one! For starters, I use a Franklin Planner to keep track of financial info, like quarterly tax payments, appts with my nice tax lady, and when the statements are due to arrive. I also keep track of my Motley Fool subs and updates. Since I carry my planner everywhere with me, I have a separate notebook - a composition book, that lists all the websites and passwords, that stays at home by the computer. I WAS using file folders for everything, utility bills, credit card bills, brokerage statements. Then I had to evacuate for a hurricane, pack everything I own in one vehicle, leaving my house and not knowing whether it would be blown to kingdom come when I finally got back. So now, because the file cabinet wouldn't fit in the car, aka disaster planning, I am using notebooks - binders - with a table of contents and all pertinent info inserted. For example in my brokerage notebook I have a table of contents, with their contact info, the account numbers, the statements, the cost basis page on top of the confirmation sheets, etc. A notebook can be crammed under your car seat or stuffed somewhere much more easily than a file folder. And I am constantly pulling them down and checking each new piece of mail against what I already have, instead of just stuffing the mail into a file folder, "for later, just in case I need it". I find I stay on top of my financial life more, because the binders are on a shelf right over the computer monitor. Out of sight, out of mind, is very true in my case.I also use autopay on every bill that I can. I use Microsoft Money for financial software. I update my checkbook register from the online bank website regularly, like every couple of days. With so many bills on autopay, if I wait, my register is a mess by the time the e-statement arrives. Oh yes, and I also download and save copies of all the statements that I can. Once again, it's easier to load up the computer, the password book, the binders, and my Franklin Planner and rebuild my financial picture with that stuff later, than to try to cram a bunch of loose papers from my file cabinet into a box or suitcase.Hope this is useful. I think that a natural disaster is one thing we don't think about when we think about getting organized.
First, I think Quicken is a must. To make sure everything gets entered accurately, I have a (maybe painstaking for some) system. I have a box labeled "receipts." For every ATM withdrawal I make, I write down how I spent the money right onto the ATM receipt. Then it goes in the box (along with credit card receipts). At the end of the month, I enter all my withdrawals into Quicken, being able to split them into the appropriate categories. I also enter transactions from my checkbook register. Then I reconcile it all every 2-3 months. At the end of the year, I know my expenses almost to the dollar.For bills, I have a three-tiered desk organizer from IKEA:Immediate-attention bills, notices, etc. go on top.'Stuff that can wait' goes on the second shelf.Things to get "archived" into the file cabinet (statement stubs from paid bills) go on the bottom shelf.
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