Figuring out ways to organize your bills and finances might be overwhelming if you don't know where to begin or if you're avoiding them. But let's face it: Your bills are never going away. Instead of ignoring your responsibilities by hiding underneath a rock, take the time to reorganize your spending situation and get things back in order.
Personally, I've always taken pride in my finances and credit score because growing up, my family didn't have a talent for having a high credit score or being in control of their spending. Because of the way I saw my family suffer, I always made sure that I was in complete charge of my finances and because of that, I have a high credit score, no late fees on my bills or credit history, and I have a savings account with a good amount of money. In addition to that, two years ago I learned how to save and budget my money so I could move to New York City; I saved around $5,000 in six months.
Being on top of your finances is a great way to feel secure with your money and where it is going. When you're completely in control of what you are doing with your money at all times, you can do so much more with it than you could ever imagine. Below are a few hacks to help you start being organized with your finances. It won't require a huge amount of effort, and once you get in the routine of things, it can be that much easier to stay organized and stress free when it pertains to your money.
1. Create An Excel Spreadsheet
For you to truly get your money organized, one of the best things you can do is create an Excel spreadsheet of your finances. It can show you all the bills you have to pay each month (so you won't forget them), how much money you make, and how much you're saving. I personally like to have one doc and create sub folders for each month. Underneath one tab, list all the bills you have, your paycheck's amount and how much you saved for that month. Once you start to see how much you are saving, it can give you an incentive to continue to save more for next month. This is also great to help manage your finances for tax purposes — especially for quarterly taxes. You can find all of your income for the year under one document and you can just print it out when the time comes.
2. Check Your Accounts Every Day
The more you know what is going on with your checking and savings account, the better you may feel. This means facing reality. I completely understand the nervous feeling you get in your stomach when you haven't checked your account for the past couple of days, so to avoid that whole situation together, try to be as consistent as possible when it comes to checking both of your accounts. While it's good to know the amount you have with you at all times, it's always a great way to catch any potential fraud activities. When you're checking your account, don't just look at the single number, always go through the list and visually see what has or hasn't been processed yet. Calculate that everything makes sense and then you can move on.
3. Be Aware Of Your Available Balance
Just because your available balance on your checking account says one number, doesn't mean it's correct. There has been plenty of times when that number doesn't add up because past bills still need to process or a tip from a restaurant hasn't been included in the final payment. Always try to keep track on your available balance by manually doing the math yourself. If that means you should carry around a little notebook with you and document your spending every time it happens, then do it. This hack can help you from ever having to pay an overdraft fee again (OK, well... most of the time).
4. Use Financial Apps
I love financial apps. They can get tedious, but they are so worth the extra steps, especially if you're trying to figure out where all of your money is going. I personally have the app called Mint. If you're not familiar with it, it creates a graph of categories of where all of your money has been going to. So if you eat out a lot, it will show you how much you spent. At the end of the month, it emails you a report of what your spending was like for that month. This might be a hard reality to face, but it's worth it to get your finances in tip-top shape. If you don't like that one, there are plenty of other financial apps to help get you organized like BillGuard and Pocket Expense.
5. Create Two Folders For All Of Your Financial Files
If you don't want all of your finances in a digital location, multiply your documents by creating two places to hold them. Buy a filing cabinet and keep all your documents and receipts in it. Organize it by month, so it's easy to access for tax season. For extra organizing skills, photograph all the documents you will be keeping in the filing cabinet, and upload it into a folder on your computer. Now you have two places to access your documents. This can alleviate any problems of printing or scanning for the future (because you already did that!), and you can be more aware of where everything is. This is especially good if you need to keep records of receipts. You can take a picture easily with your iPhone, name the image and store them in a file under the month name on your computer. It's literally that easy to do.
6. Get Notifications Sent To Your Phone For When Your Bills Are Due
If you already have a lot on your plate and somehow always forget to pay your bill on time, then you have two options: You can either have the payments automatically withdrawn from your checking account or set your calendar or financial apps to send you notifications a few days before the bill is due. This will remind you, especially when you are out, to stop whatever you are doing and pay your bill right then and there.
7. Try To Have A Payment Routine When It Comes To Your Bills
Try to schedule out exactly when to pay your bills. It can set a solid routine each month so you won't forget to pay them and you know exactly how much you can spend each month without going over board. According to LearnVest, if you normally try to avoid faces your finances, setting a schedule will make you less likely avoid the task. Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder, and focus about 15 to 30 minutes of your time to pay your bills right then it there.
8. Reevaluate At The End Of The Month
After every month, schedule a time to go over your expenses and see how well you did. This is where you can find any mistakes you might've made so you can fix for next time. Realized you spent too much on going out to eat? Go out less next month. Or if you really want to get organized, try to do this every Sunday. If you don't like how you spent money during that week, change it for the next. Why wait every month to do this, when you can take charge of your money week by week?
Taking charge of your finances sounds tiring, but it's really one of the freeing feelings you could ever have. Your whole life depends on how you spend your money (no pressure). Whether you believe it or not, you really can spend less and save more, no matter how much you make a year. Start by taking baby steps to figure out what your issues are, why you're stressing out, and then figure out how you can fix them. Being an adult doesn't mean you have to stress out about money 24/7, but it does help to be more aware of where your money is going. So if you're reading this and feeling inspired to take that next step, give yourself a gold star because you're already on the right track.
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