As we know too well, an unorganized life can easily lead to chaos and stress. We lose things, forget birthdays and miss important deadlines. And when it comes to our finances, lacking organization can quickly translate into wasted time, energy and money.
The good news is, getting your financial life in order doesn't take much to get started. You'll be able to start saving money in 20 minutes with some organization. With a few key systems and strategies, you can quickly clear the clutter and build great momentum to get your finances back on track.
Consider these easy steps:
Designate a Money Zone
This will take all of 10 minutes to create. Find a comfortable space in your home where you can run your day-to-day financial tasks, keep important documents and receipts, pay bills and monitor your budget. It doesn't need to be an entire separate office. A small desk or counter area will do. It's also helpful to surround your money zone with visuals of your personal and professional goals, your fiends and family and inspirations, all the reasons to stay motivated and keep tabs on your finances.
Manage Your Paperwork
You don't need to keep every piece of financial paperwork forever. Clear the clutter and keep only what you need. For documents that you need to keep safe for a lifetime — or at least a long time — like your will, life insurance policy and deed to your home, place them in a secure location such as a fire proof safe. For tax returns, keep in mind that the IRS typically has three years to audit personal returns, so file your tax documents and supporting paperwork and receipts for at least that long. For quarterly announcements, such as your retirement and brokerage account statements, shred the old ones when new ones arrive. And hold onto year-end statements for tax filing purposes. The same goes for your more regular bills and bank statements. Investing in a shredder — if you haven't already — is key. It will not only prevent your paperwork from piling up, it will help safeguard you against identity theft.
Set Up Automatic Bill Pay
This simple step will take just a few minutes, but will save you hours and hours down the road. Setting up automatic bill pay for reoccurring monthly bills ensures you'll never forget a deadline or miss a payment and pay late fees. Remember, you can always reference your statements online if you have questions about your bills.
Have a Daily, Visual Encounter
Seeing is believing. If you commit to seeing your bank balance and expenses on a daily basis, you'll always know where you stand and won't feel clueless about your finances. And being financially organized means being in the know. And with the advent of technology, it's never been simpler. You can sign up for free text alerts from your bank and stay informed on the go.
Remember, Yahoo! Finance has a number of helpful online tools and calculators to help you stay financially organized in its personal finance section.