Financial Life: Not being organized with your finances can have significant negative effects, just like not having enough money. Misplacing bills can result in late fees, and failing to monitor your checking account balance might lead to overdraft fees. By following the steps below, you can effectively manage your financial life and ultimately save money in the long term.
8 Steps To An Organized Financial Life
Review Your Budget Monthly
Bills, like regular monthly expenses, can vary from month to month. It’s essential to update your budget as you receive the bills and make necessary adjustments to avoid accidentally overdrawing your bank account.
For instance, some months might have higher electricity bills compared to others. For example, your electricity bill in June could be $100 more than it was in May. To account for this increased expense, it’s crucial to review your budget and identify areas where you can adjust other expenses. This way, you can ensure you have enough funds to cover your electric bill.
Also, keep in mind that July is expected to be hotter than June, so incorporating these changes into your revised budget will make it more realistic and better suited to your future needs.
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Adjust as Needed
To save $100, you can make some simple changes in your spending. For instance, you can replace two dinners at restaurants with a bike ride and a packed lunch. Alternatively, instead of going to an expensive restaurant, you could opt for a free concert in the park for a budget-friendly night out.
The best thing about adjusting your expenses is that it encourages you to break old habits and explore new experiences.
If you don’t already have a budget, it’s a good idea to create one today. Start by listing your expected expenses for the month. As the month progresses, keep track of your actual expenses and adjust your budget accordingly.
This process can be quite eye-opening as it might reveal opportunities to use your money more wisely and efficiently. You might discover ways to be smarter with your spending and save money in the long run.
Use a Financial App
Financial software has a broader purpose than just assisting with investments. You can find free basic budgeting apps online that are designed to help you monitor your daily and household expenses.
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When selecting a budgeting app, it’s essential to check its app store ratings or verify its track record with customers on the Better Business Bureau website. This way, you can ensure you are choosing a reliable and trustworthy app that meets your needs effectively.
Keep Bills in One Place
Even if the majority of your bills are received electronically, it’s essential to have a designated place for those that arrive by mail, as some bills still come through traditional mail. Bills such as property tax and homeowners’ insurance are typically paid annually or quarterly and often arrive via mail. Additionally, occasional expenses like medical test bills may also be sent the old-fashioned way.
To stay organized, keep these paper bills close to your desk or wherever you manage your check-writing or online bill payments. A simple file cabinet or a couple of folders can effectively store these physical bills.
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With the prevalence of online bill management, many people choose to shred paper statements once they’ve handled them online, relying on digital records instead. However, if you prefer keeping paper records for tax purposes or added security, you can file them in the recently acquired filing system or scan them for storage in an online filing system.
Pay Bills the Day You Get Them
If you have enough money in your bank account and there are no pending debit card or bill pay charges that could lead to an overdraft, it’s advisable to pay your bills promptly when you receive them.
Be cautious about paper bills that you typically pay electronically. There’s a risk of accidentally paying a bill twice if you receive a duplicate by mail. To avoid this, always contact the creditor when you get a paper bill and suspect you might have an automatic payment scheduled or electronic billing set up. Confirming with the creditor will help prevent any duplicate payments and ensure you manage your bills effectively.
Use a Checklist for Bills You’re Expecting
Neither mail nor email is perfect. Create a checklist at the beginning of the month listing every bill you are expecting. You can keep it on your desk, bill-paying area or a file on your computer.
Coordinate with Significant Others
If you and your spouse or significant other share expenses, it’s essential to be aware of each other’s spending to avoid potential issues like overdrawing your bank account.
For instance, let’s say your spouse has a day off and decides to have lunch and go golfing with a friend. When you later hear about their enjoyable golf game, you might not be aware that it cost $150. This lack of information could lead to a problem like your direct-debited student loan payment bouncing, causing an unexpected financial difficulty. To prevent such situations, open communication about expenses is vital to ensure both parties are well-informed about the financial life.
Verify that Your Paycheck is Direct Deposited
If you have direct deposit you get used to your paycheck being there on paydays. However, electronic payments aren’t always recorded on the expected date. Don’t spend your paycheck without confirming that it’s there.
Use Two Bank Accounts
To manage your finances effectively, consider using two separate accounts. Use one account for discretionary spending and saving, and the other account specifically for paying bills. This approach helps prevent the risk of accidentally using essential funds, like rent money, for non-essential expenses, such as a night out. By keeping your spending and bill payments separated, you can maintain better control over your finances and avoid potential financial challenges.
Missing bill payments because of a lack of organization is the easiest financial problem to fix. You don’t have to follow all eight of these tips, but make sure you have an organizational system that you can stick to every month.
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