Spring is nearly here and it’s no secret that your finances might seem a little wonky and all over the place.
The average person has several different bills to pay each month ranging from living expenses, utilities, and variable expenses to debt payments, and credit card bills.
When you add in efforts to save and invest, it’s understandable how anyone can get unorganized and overwhelmed with managing their financial situation. Luckily there are several ways to get reorganized and reduce stress by spring cleaning your financial house.
Reorganize Your Budget
Hopefully you have a solid monthly budget in place already, but now may be the perfect time to recalculate your budget and change a few categories. Did you add any new expenses or reduce any expenses? Have your savings goals changed?
It’s important to adjust your budget throughout the year because your finances will definitely change throughout the year not to mention you’ll have to work in annual expenses like insurance, a vehicle registration, etc. Keeping your budget up-to-date is a must if you want to stay organized and maintain control of your finances.
In order to keep your budget in check, you will likely want to use one of the free services available online. The two recommended services are Mint.com and PersonalCapital.com. In our review of Mint.com we found it is the best tool for a monthly budget. When we reviewed PersonalCapital we found that was the best tool not for monthly budgets, but for tracking investments and net worth. Whichever service you choose, using an online service can definitely help with your budgeting chores.
If you haven’t gone paperless yet what are you waiting for? I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to go paperless with all my bills, especially the credit card statements at first. I’m a very physical type of person with my finances and I used to feel like opening my paper statements manually when they came in the mail each month gave me some type of control.
Turns out it just gave me clutter and overwhelmed me to the point where I didn’t even bother opening my paper statements anymore. Going paperless saves me from having to open and store paper statements each month. Now I can simply log on to my account online and pull up my statement to view whenever I wish and I get notified by email if there are any changes.
Enroll in Online Bill Pay
When you start going the paperless route to manage your finances, enrolling in online bill pay will be a breeze. Most banks and companies have some form of a free online bill payment system and even a mobile app so you can pay your bills on the go. The systems are secure, user friendly, and most important, they save time and money when it comes to those pesky service fees.
Do a Wallet Sweep
When was the last time you cleaned out your wallet? If you can’t remember, you are definitely due for a wallet sweep. Take 5 minutes to go through your wallet and trash any old receipts and business cards you don’t need along with expired coupons.
If you have credit cards that you are no longer using and don’t need at all, be sure to cut them up and cancel them if doing so won’t drastically affect your credit score.
Set Up Automatic Savings and Deposits
Putting your finances on autopilot has its’ benefits and downfalls. The great thing about automatic bill pay and savings deposits is that you don’t have to constantly remind yourself when things are due and your expenses get paid on time, every time. It’s a great ‘out of sight out of mind’ tool.
However, it’s important that you continue to track your spending and check your accounts often to avoid overdrafts and dealing with those fees. Not to mention automatic payment systems aren’t 100% perfect. A company may withdraw an unauthorized amount for your payment by accident or charge you earlier than your due date so it’s important to check in to ensure your automatic payments are operating accurately.
Clean Out Your Email and Create Folders
One of the drawbacks of going paperless and setting up automatic bill pay is the amount of email you’ll get. For security and confirmation reasons, you’ll most likely receive an email reminder to inform you that your bill is due in a few days, a confirmation email after you’ve made a payment, and a notification email that your statement is ready to review.
If you have a few automatic payments set up throughout the month, it can generate a lot of email. Organizing your bills and accounts in separate folders can help clear up any confusion and if you ever need to dispute anything or look at past payments and changes for your records you will have the emails handy.
For example, a have separate email folders for: my checking accounts, saving with CapitalOne 360, the company that is financing my vehicle, my credit cards, and Paypal. It works out pretty well and I also use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from email lists that I’m no longer interested in so my email account stays clear from spam and clutter messages.
Have you started spring cleaning your financial house yet this year? What do you need to work on organizing?