Getting organized with your financial information can feel like climbing Mount Everest and the side of the mountain is quick sand. There is alot to look up at, the peak seems far off and there is consistently sliding back and forth. Money brings with it many emotions too. Check out these many automated tools that will help you gain control and get organized with your finances.
Cyber security first
We are all aware of the online dangers, phone and text scams, and dark web. Every account needs a strong, unique password. LastPass offers online security for you with easy access. If you are more of a paper person, use a paper address book listing the user name, password, and security questions. If you receive any kind of request about purchasing or payments, go directly to the source of payment. This is a time to be overly cautious.
Solutions: Many of us have been using automated bill paying online for a long time. The easiest way to pay is using your bank app and adding account information. You can pay directly from the bank to the vendor. The next easiest payment plan is with your credit card. Keep a list of automated payments, the vendor account numbers in case there is a gap in payment. Maybe you want to know more about your spending and how much you spend on different categories. Quicken offers online bill pay with a tracking dashboard. This tools helps you analyze and strategize about your money.
Solutions: There are always random bills that need to be paid that arrive in the mail. There are quarterly payments for taxes too. Establish a command center where mail is opened and bills are paid. Set aside a weekly or bi-monthly time to pay bills. Keep your check book here with envelopes and stamps to efficiently pay with paper.
Routines: Set aside a weekly time to open mail and pay bills. Check your bank and credit card balances weekly or monthly to be sure all bills are paid and the amounts of payment.
Solution: There are two favorite budgeting tools Mint and You Need A Budget (YNAB). Both offer you consolidation of information to make financial decisions. You will need this tool to analyze where and what you are spending.
Routine: Review your spending monthly, quarterly or annually with a strategic planning meeting. With your consolidated information you can make good decisions on your next financial steps.
Solution: Your credit score helps lenders decide whether to give you a mortgage, credit card or other line of credit as well as the interest amount you will pay. The score is an assessment of you are a credit risk at the time of application. This score goes up and down monthly as you pay bills, get new credit and pay off loans. A good credit score saves you money, gives you options for better loan rates, and more. Credit Karma offers you a free monthly view of your credit score. Many banks offer this as service.
Routine: Review your credit score annually or before a major purchase.
Solution: Gather your paper or digital documents in January, February and March. Follow these instructions here. Can’t find your most important tax papers? Look online for your property tax payments and mortgage interest expense. It’s easy to locate these records on your mortgage or banking websites. Medical expenses are easy to track online at your medical provider’s website.
Routine: At the beginning of February, mark your calendar for a 2 hour tax session with yourself! Go through your checkbook, bank statement and files to find important items to copy for accounting purposes. Three weeks later, mark another 2 hour tax session to wrap up those loose ends and file your documents in your master file. If you use an accountant, you are ready to send in your papers. If you file yourself, break your filing sessions into manageable chunks like 2 hour sessions too! You can always break these sessions into one hour segments too. Most importantly marking these on your calendar commits you to work.
Bringing it all together
Make your financial organizing a priority with a weekly or bi-monthly review of your automated tools. Dig deep and think what you want to know about your spending and your goals. Create a dashboard with the information you want to know. Use your financial planning time to feel confident about your financial success. Add bookmarks to access each site easily and your ready!