To-Do List for Getting Finances in Order
Do you often find you’re scatterbrained when it comes to keeping your finances in order? More important, do you spend more than you can afford? According to PRNewswire, an estimated 69 percent of Americans in urban areas are living from paycheck to paycheck; 14 percentage points higher than suburban consumers. This means it’s time to start really getting down to business about keeping more organized to avoid spending more than you should be spending.
Here are some top tips for getting financially organized:
Ditch paper - Most bills can be paid online, so you might want to take advantage of that, as too much paper increases the chance that things will get lost. If you use a scanner, you’re more likely to be able to keep things in order and you can always print documents if you do end up needing a paper copy. As an added bonus, going paperless is much better for the environment. When switching to electronic record keeping, you should also store at least one backup copy on a memory stick or external hard drive.
However, for those who aren’t quite ready to go paperless completely, invest in a paper shredder to keep your information secure.
Start a retirement plan - While you’re getting your finances in order, it’s a good time to set up a 401(k) or other retirement plan, if you haven’t already, to help you save for the future. Having a long-term plan is necessary to prepare for inflation and expenses when you retire. Try to invest as much as you can in a 401(k), and take advantage of whatever company matches available to you. If you don’t have access to a 401(k), you can always open an IRA.
Be detailed about files – Take inventory of which files you access the most and why you do so. Make these files the most accessible, so you don’t have to go digging every time the need for a file arises. As for all the other files, instead of dumping everything into one generic folder, separate your files into specific folders like “tax returns,” “credit/debit cards,” and “insurance”.
While you’re organizing, make sure the files you’re keeping are relevant. Chances are you won’t need random receipts from 20 years ago cluttering your files.
Open an emergency fund - No one wants to find themselves strapped for cash, especially in an emergency. That’s why it’s wise to start building a just-in-case fund to help keep things in order. Start small, with an initial goal of $1,000 saved for emergencies. As time goes on, up your goal until you’re able to have three months’ worth of your take-home pay available at a moment’s notice.
Keep a checklist handy - Start each month by making a checklist of each bill you know will be arriving. Keep the list in the same place at all times, and be sure to update it regularly. You can refer to it whenever you need to verify whether you’ve paid — or you haven’t paid — a bill. Whether via mail or email, not all important documents always make their way to you in a timely manner, so keeping a list helps you stay on track and notice if something wasn’t delivered on time, which happens more often than you’d think.
Ready to get your finances in order? Kleberg Bank is always here to help answer any financial questions you might have.