From Mess to Master: 7 Essential Steps for Organizing Your FinancesAnna Newell Jones
I used to be such a financial mess. I would go months and months without even looking at my accounts. I had no idea what I really owed because it was easier to be blissfully unaware and in denial than to face reality. And my poor organization went on for years because I really didn’t want to change my ways until I was finally ready, but that’s a whole other story!
Being financially unorganized can be detrimental to your finances, your credit, and your future. It is important to take steps to get organized if you have been losing bills, missing payments, and totally overwhelmed by the thought of budgeting.
Click through for 7 steps you can take today to revamp your budget and financial life …
Have Supplies on Hand 1 of 7
Invest in the right supplies to get organized. If you can't afford a filing cabinet, at least buy a box of manila folders and a milk crate. Have a calculator, a notebook, a pen, and a marker handy. These are the basics to get started. There is no need to invest in expensive technology or supplies to get the job done. You could also benefit from having a trash bag and a paper shredder.
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Collect All Relevant Documents 2 of 7
Sweep your house for all relevant personal financial documents, bills, statements, and other correspondence. Bring it all to the table so you can put everything in order at one time. Start by opening all the mail you've pushed aside or let pile up, and tossing the trash, and stacking papers to keep. Sort all paperwork into separate piles by relevant categories. You should also consider downloading a copy of your credit report. (You can get a free one at Credit Karma.)
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Account for Your Obligations 3 of 7
On a sheet of your notebook paper, write down every account you have open. Include the creditor, monthly amount due, date due and total balance owed, and note the interest rate on relevant accounts. If you have a credit report, compare the information you have versus the information on the report.
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Prioritize Your Financial Obligations 4 of 7
Using your list, write down your obligations on a monthly basis, noting any debts that are overdue, carry a high interest rate, and the balances due on your monthly bills. Tally the monthly obligations and subtract the amount from your monthly income. This will give you a quick reference as to your ability to make ends meet each month before you actually work through a budget.
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Review and Downsize 5 of 7
Through the years, people tend to collect accounts they don't necessarily need, or they pay for services they never use. Now is the time to review each and every statement you have on every account. Note items you no longer need, use or want so you can cancel them and save more money. Take time to compare pricing for services you do use including for your cell phone, insurance, banking, and utilities. You may find you can free up some much-needed funds when you pay attention to what is going on.
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Organize Your Files 6 of 7
If you already have a filing system, purge all of the old documents you no longer need. Shred or burn documents to protect your privacy. Make sure to have a file folder for each account you have open including for your bills, insurance policies, medical documents, loan paperwork, etc. Create a folder where all income bills are placed as soon as they come in, and keep that in front of the crate or filing cabinet. Create a page for each month of the year in the notebook to help you keep track of bills you've paid and include any other relevant monthly financial information on the page so all of your notes are easily accessible in one place.
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Set Your Goals 7 of 7
In order to know where you are going financially, now is the time for setting goals. Since all of the information is in front of you, start planning for the short-term and long-term goals including paying off debts, cutting expenses, and saving for a variety of reasons.
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