Have you ever found yourself scrambling for spare cash to send with your child for school lunch? Have you paid a late fee because you simply forgot when a bill was due? Have you woken up in a cold sweat trying to remember if you paid the water bill last month? Trying to put your finances in order can be a challenge when you're not organized.
Organizing your financial life may allow you to reduce the amount of time and energy needed to pay bills, plan savings, and balance your budget each month. Below we discuss three quick and simple tips to potentially help organize your finances.
Set a Budget and Review it Regularly
One of the most important precursors to organized finances is a comprehensive, accurate budget. If you don't know where your money is going, setting goals and tracking spending may be much more difficult. And once you begin thinking of retirement, it's crucial to know approximately how much you spend each year to ensure you have enough of a nest egg to support yourself.
But while setting a budget is important, reviewing it regularly may be even more important. Taking a good look at your budget once or twice a month may help you spot emerging patterns, giving you an idea of where to cut back or what seasonal expenses you may be able to expect next year.
Take Advantage of Financial Apps
There are dozens of budgeting, investing, and financial education apps that may help you track income and spending, find money-saving tips, open a taxable investment account, or even prepare and file your taxes. With so many of these apps available for free, it just makes sense to take advantage of them when possible; the more accessible your financial life is, the more you're likely to take charge of it.
Keep Track of Bills
When some of your bills arrive online, some are sitting on the kitchen table, and others are floating around in the bottom of your handbag, it may be tough to ensure everything is timely paid. Unfortunately, even a single late payment reported to the three major credit bureaus may have a major impact on your credit score.
Make it a practice to keep all your bills in one place, whether this is a file folder in your kitchen, a basket in your home office, or even on your nightstand. Once you've paid a physical bill, shred it, ensuring that only unpaid (or pending) bills are included in your pile, or file it away appropriately.
Some people may prefer to pay each bill the day it comes in, while others could benefit from setting up an automatic payment to occur just before the bill's due date. (However, this second approach may still require one extra step to confirm that the payment went to its intended destination). It may take some time to find a bill-paying strategy that works for you. Be patient, and don't stop trying!