Nine Strategies to de-clutter, organize accounts and manage your money

There are numerous reasons to simplify your financial life.  Not only does it eliminate clutter, save time and reduce stress but not keeping tabs on your finances can be costly if it results in additional fee or interest charges.  There are nine basic things you can do to get your personal finances in order.

Use Direct Deposit – Make sure you have your paycheck or pension automatically deposited into your bank account.  Direct deposit is safer, easier and more convenient than getting a paper check.  Even better, direct deposit gives you access to your money sooner.

Automate Recurring Bills –  You can pay your recurring bills, like insurance or utilities, with an automatic withdrawal from your checking account or through a charge to your credit card.  If you do this, be sure to record these transactions to avoid overdrawing your account.   You can also use online bill pay at your bank or credit union.  This is an entirely paperless transaction and it can reduce the chance of incurring a late payment fee.

Sign Up For Online Banking –  This service will let you review deposits and withdrawals, keep track of your balance and move funds between accounts.   There are many advantages to online banking.  It allows you to bypass bank lines, conduct banking transactions safely and securely without leaving the comfort of your home, gives you 24 hours access to your money and have access to online statements.  We all lead busy lives so that where online banking can help!

Put Your Savings on Autopilot – Arrange with your bank or even your employer to automatically transfer a certain amount of money into savings or investment account every month.  Automatic savings programs can make it easy to build an emergency fund or even save for retirement.

Consolidate Accounts – If you think about how many different accounts (savings, checking and investments) and credit cards you have, you may be able to simplify your finances just by consolidating multiple accounts.  By consolidating it can make it easier to monitor your entire financial portfolio and ensure that your money is properly differentiated.  Just make sure your deposits don’t exceed the deposit insurance limitations at your financial institution.

Research Automated Money Management Tools – Financial online software can give you an updated snapshot of all your account information from multiple places.  These types of programs can also help organize finances, put together a budget and spot any fraud by providing a regular summary of balances.

Update all your legal documents – These documents can include bank statements, pension records, and directives that administrate all your bank accounts, property and other assets.  In addition to checking your financial documents, check the beneficiaries listed on insurance policies, living trusts, etc.  and consider instituting a durable power of attorney that would enable someone you trust to handle your finances in case you become incapacitated.

Get all your other papers under control – Even if you are a technology-based person, it’s extremely difficult to go completely paperless.  Institute a central filing system at home for your bank, tax, insurance and other financial records.  Designate one place for gathering all your bills and invoices so you don’t forget to pay on a timely basis.  Get rid of all the papers you’re sure you don’t need.

In case of an emergency don’t get caught off guard – If you had to leave your home in a hurry for an extended period of time, would you have access to necessary cash, banking services and personal identification?  My recommendation is to store copies of important documents – insurance cards, driver’s license, bank account numbers and credit card information – on a secure website that you can access from anywhere.

The bottom line is, by spending a few extra minutes organizing and simplifying your financial life, you can save many hours and, in some cases, a significant amount of money.

We are dedicated to our members in support of ongoing education and financial well being.  We have a full range of resources for people of every age, and knowledgeable representatives who can help you simplify and de-clutter your financial life.  Contact us if you need to become more financial savvy!