7 Ways to Simplify Your Finances
Finances can be complicated! However, the simpler your finances, the easier they are to conquer. A few simplifications can renew your enthusiasm for finally mastering your finances. Many of the simplest actions you can take are the most effective. Making a habit of these simple actions is a sure way to ensure your financial life flourishes.
Simplify your finances and simplify your life:
1. Simplify your financial accounts. Do you really need three checking accounts, two savings accounts and multiple retirement accounts? Unless you own your own business, it’s unlikely you require more than one of each. Pick the best and ditch the rest.
2. Pay your bills once a week. Have a scheduled day each week to sit down and pay your bills. Having a scheduled time will ensure that no bills are “forgotten”. Pay everything on time. Leave enough time to ensure that all payments post on schedule.
3. Use electronic bill paying. Not all electronic bill paying systems are automatic. Most checking accounts will allow you to pay any bill you like online through your checking account. You can set up automatic payments or you can pay manually. Most importantly, you avoid the need for paper checks and stamps.
· Automatic bill paying works best with bills that have consistent payments, such as mortgage, automobile, and other types of loans.
4. Consider level-paying your utilities. Budgeting can be enough of a challenge without having to incorporate high electricity bills in the summer or high gas bills in the winter. Using your utility company’s level-pay option can keep your utility bills predictable.
5. Automate your savings. Save first and save automatically. If you’re still trying to save whatever money remains at the end of the month, there’s a good chance you’re struggling. Expenses tend to expand to meet the availability of funds. Have money taken out of your paycheck before the opportunity to spend it presents itself.
· Your employer’s human resources department should be able to help you. If necessary, just put the amount you’d like to save into your savings account as soon as you receive your paycheck.
6. Review your spending once a month. At the end of each month, account for every penny spent. Use a spreadsheet or financial software to chart all of your spending. You’ll find that you’re spending more than you think in certain areas. Those morning coffees, work lunches, and happy hours might be costing more than you realize.
· Reviewing your bills and other spending is one of the most effective ways to enhance your budgeting activities.
7. Re-evaluate your financial recordkeeping system. Most of us keep more paperwork than necessary. Speak with an accountant and determine how long to keep each type of record.
· Most importantly, be organized. You can set up your filing system by the month or the bill.
· Most items necessary for tax purposes can be kept for a maximum of seven years. Most other records are safe to discard at the end of the month. Remember that many records are available online.
· Do you really need to know how much you charged on your credit card 3 years ago? Does your cable bill from last April need saving? Probably not.
· Place current bills in one location to avoid loss. Keep your shredder handy and use it when the time comes.
A few simple adjustments to your personal finances can make life much easier. Develop systems and habits that ensure the most important financial activities take place each month in a timely manner. Habits and consistency are a key component to a simple and productive financial life.
-Tiffany M. Vaughn, CPA