There are about as many ways to organize your finances as there are to organize your kitchen or bathroom. If you’re unhappy with how disorganized you are, give these suggestions a try. Tweak and change them to fit you and your family’s needs. Here in the Willow Grove, PA area we have helped many families organize their finances to reduce overwhelm.
Save yourself time, energy and money and pay your bills online. Stop writing checks and mailing them. In the past year how much money did you spend on stamps so you could mail checks? The thought of taking the plunge and going paperless may make you anxious but this can easily be done through websites of your bill service providers or your bank. Those providing you services want to save money and go paperless too. If you’re forgetful you can set up email reminder alerts when bills are due then just pay them online.
Plan and budget
These are two big financial dirty words for many people. You need to plan ahead and financially prepare yourself for short term emergencies (like suddenly spending a lot of money due to an unexpected major car or home repair or family emergency) and for your retirement in the long term. Unless you have a budget (which requires some discipline, but you can do it) it’s virtually impossible to save money.
It’s a good idea to have six months’ worth of living expense put away in case something bad happens. Budgets aren’t carved in stone but overall you should stick to them. Returns on savings accounts are generally awful but you may do better at a local credit union or online back. When you put money into a savings account you’re giving an institution something of value, your money, and you should try to maximize the value you get back.
If your employer matches contributions to a 401(k) to help you fund your retirement but you’re not contributing you’re literally leaving their money on the table. An IRA may be an option for you if a 401(k) is not. You can choose the investments and be as risk averse or tolerant as you want, but beware of costs and fees which over the long run can take a substantial bite out of your savings.
Get control of your personal possessions
Your possessions are not cash but they are part of your wealth. Space in your home has value. You’re probably either paying rent or a mortgage and property taxes in order to have that home. Why waste your money storing things that you don’t use or appreciate?
Take an inventory of your possessions and break them into categories, things you want to keep and those you don’t. What is the value of your things? For those you want to keep, do you have enough insurance coverage in case they’re destroyed or stolen? For items you no longer want, are there any items you can sell and generate some income? Through Facebook, Craigslist, EBay and an old fashioned garage sale you may be able to convert unused stuff into (at least some) cash. Stuff you can’t sell you may be able to donate to a nonprofit and take a tax deduction.
What should you do next?
Depending on how complex your finances are and how disorganized you are there are many things you could do to get control of your financial life. FJ Koelle & Associates offers guidance with tax issues related to your personal financial situation. We help our clients reach their goals and lessen the chance of future financial hardships. If you have any questions or want some help with your personal finances, give us a call at 215-659-5000.