Monday, September 1, 2014

5 Ways to Organize Your Finances

If you haven't balanced your checkbook in awhile, or you lose your incoming bills before they're paid or you put off filing your tax returns because it's just too difficult to get everything together, than it's probably time to organize your finances.

Here are 5 quick ideas:

Consolidate your credit cards. Rather than having a bunch of different credit cards, consolidate all of your expenses on one single credit card, preferably one that has a low finance rate, and perhaps one that offers cashback or airline mileage on every dollar you spend.

This can result in less confusion over which card to use, it can give you a better idea of how much debt you're accumulating, it may give you more back for your dollar, and you'll only have to write out one payment check per month.

Use a bill paying system. As soon as you get bills in the mail, they should immediately be placed into a bill paying system. All of your pending bills are then ready to be paid once a week, or once every 2 weeks, etc. Use that same bill paying system to store paid bill summaries, being sure that each category is in its own folder or envelope. Doing this makes it very simple to look something up when necessary.

Organize your expenses, as you spend. Want to know how much you spend each month, so you can determine your monthly spending budget? As you spend, just record that expense. This can be called your Expense Summary. A computer program like Quicken or a simple spreadsheet is great for this purpose, or you can certainly do this with paper and pen.

Balance your checkbook monthly. In order for you to have a good idea of how much money is sitting in your checking account, what checks have cleared, and any errors that you, or your bank, may have made, you must balance your checking account. It really doesn't take that long if you balance your checkbook the same day your statement and cancelled checks arrive back from the bank each month. In fact, if you use a computer program like Quicken, you can do this task even quicker. Keep your tax-related stuff together. Before tax season, you'll start to receive tax related information from your job, your bank, etc.

Keep all of these tax-related papers in a labeled file folder. This way, when you're ready to do your taxes, you won't have to search for the papers you need.

By Maria Gracia

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