Keeping track of your finances and mail is a never-ending task. Falls right in the same category as laundry,in my opinion. With the black hole of responsibilities that pop up in life, finances usually get put at the bottom of the list. Seeing both tasks can be overwhelming, it really isn’t too hard to keep putting them off. Balancing the books, ensuring money is saved, preparing for taxes, and on and on. There are days I want to stuff everything in a box and put it in the closet!
So how does one keep up with everything without sacrificing time with family and friends? And, without breaking the bank by hiring an accountant?
Below is an easy step-by-step process to ensure you are on top of your finances each week without forgoing time with family and friends. With this process, you will not have to learn any new programs nor pay for any online financial solutions!
Don’t panic! Although the below seems like it will take ages, once you get into a system, I promise it will not take longer than an hour. As long as you are doing this each week. One hour a week verses four once a month is definitely using your time more efficiently!
The key is to pick a day and stick to it each week. No matter what. Otherwise, everything will just begin to pile up once again.
Balance Your Checking Account
The first step is to balance your checking account. Some prefer to use a check register while others prefer an online method, such as, EveryDollar. Whichever you prefer, ensuring your money is in order is a vital step to keeping your finances organized. You want to ensure you do not have any fraudulent activity nor create insufficient funds.
For in-depth instructions on balancing your check register, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Balance-a-Checkbook.
Pay Bills Using A Spreadsheet Template
Once your money is balanced, you are now ready to pay your bills. This can be a daunting task if you do not have unlimited funds pouring in.
How do you know which bill to pay each week? What do you do if something unplanned happens (which it always does)?
My Monthly Expenses template will help you organize paying your bills and saving money. It takes the guesswork out of what to pay when and enables you to get through the grueling process fast. This enables you to spend more time doing things you want.
Note: Putting bills on credit cards allows you the flexibility to pay it anytime each month. Just be sure to pay your card off each month so you do not have monthly interest charges.
Check Savings Accounts
If you currently do not have a savings account, create one. If you are unable to save a certain amount each month, saving $10 here and there will still add up! One key to successful saving is keeping your checking and savings accounts at separate banks. The main reason to do this is to make it harder to withdraw money. Which is the sole purpose of a savings account.
Having multiple savings accounts helps keep your money organized. Specific accounts ensure money being saved for a specific purpose is not spent. Examples are emergency, vacation, home owners association fees, car repairs, and house repairs.
In your online account settings, you can have either email or text alerts sent to you with regard to your account(s). One setting is the balance available. This is a great feature to set up so you do not have to remember to sign in and check the balance. It is automatically sent to your email or phone each week.
Check Credit Card Activity
Credit cards have their perks but can also be extremely destructive. A rule of thumb to follow is to pay your card off each month. This ensures you do not incur interest fees nor debt.
If you have a zero balance on your card(s) each month, be sure you are taking advantage of the perks! There are a ton of options, such as, cash back, air miles, and hotels. To find the latest list of credit cards with the best reward program visit https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-credit-cards/nerdwallets-best-rewards-credit-cards/.
The number one reason you should check your accounts weekly is to ensure you do not have any fraudulent activity. If checking weekly is a bit too much, defiantly check every month when you receive your statement either via mail or email. If you see any fraudulent activity, contact your credit card company immediately.
Sales Tax from Receipts
If you are not taking advantage of adding up your sales tax for tax purposes, you should! Each year we get back between $1,500 to $2,000 just on sales tax alone. The amount they give you is a joke. Take the time to add it up.
Use my Sales Tax Spreadsheet template to help you keep track each year.
If you are not paperless, buy a small accordion folder to keep all receipts with sales tax in (you must keep them for five years for tax purposes). Add up the sales tax from receipts for the week. Place that amount in the spreadsheet. Then, place the receipts in the accordion folder in the proper month. You only need to keep receipts with sales tax on them. All others can be shredded.
If you are paperless, add up all sales tax from receipts for the week. Put that amount in the spreadsheet. Lastly, scan the receipts and save them to your computer under a folder entitled “Sales Tax Receipts for ____ Year.”
At the end of the year, your receipts will be organized by month and already added up to either give to your accountant or plug into your tax program. The other option is to spend hours at the end of the year totaling them up. Taking time each week definitely helps you manage your time wisely.
Shred Junk Mail and File Important Documents
If you are not paperless, file all documents in your filing cabinet in the appropriate folder. If you are paperless, scan the documents and save them in the appropriate folder on your computer. Note: Be sure you have your documents saved to at least three places if you are paperless. Computer, hard drive, and cloud.
Unfortunately, we live in an era where identity theft is all too common. And, it doesn’t seem like it is getting any better. Shredding all mail you do not want, especially credit card offers, will help protect you against identity theft.
Following these steps will ensure your finances and mail stay organized. It may seem daunting at first, but once your system is down, you’ll be flying through it each week.
Please let me know how this system is working for you and of any tweaks you do!