To expand on the “organization” theme I have going today (sometimes the stars just align and all the topics fall squarely together), Day 13 in NCN’s 33 Days series is about Focus and Organization in regards to money management.
I am such a proponent and fan of organization, even as I am still learning the very basics of it. The “baby steps” I have taken towards living an organized financial life have helped SO MUCH in not just keeping track and maintaining our financial position, but I credit organization in regards to money management as the single biggest factor in improving our situation.
The steps I follow are not complicated, and they have one goal. Make every dollar work for you. I have probably said that 100 times, and I will say it 100 more at least. If it is too complicated, I will abandon it. This is really a prime example of keeping things simple and maximizing your time (for me, I generally tend towards the complex so to me this defines streamlined). The four steps I follow in maximizing financial organization are:
Budgeting. Both creating a budget and then maintaining it.
Basically, I made time to sit down, review a number of different methods of budgeting, and then picked one and created a budget. No it was not perfect at first (and still is not) but I keep at it, tweaking it a little each month. If I am going to make every dollar work for me I need to track those dollars closely and carefully. You can find more information about my budgeting process in my budgeting for dummies series.
Keeping track of important financial information.
What are my accounts? When are they due? How much do I owe? What is the target for debt elimination or savings accumulation? If you don’t know what is going on you can’t keep up with it. I use a master list of all our monthly obligations (from the budget) and note due dates next to each one as well as amount due. The dollars don’t work for me if I don’t know where and when to send them.
Scheduling financial tasks both large and small.
I have a scheduled time each day and each week I do financial-related tasks. Everything from entering receipts into my budget spreadsheet (daily) to paying bills (weekly). I sit down with my checklist and I do all tasks for that day at once. Then I have more time to blog knowing all my dollars are working for me.
Researching other options
This is something I don’t do every day or every week, but once a month I research the accounts I have and the choices I’ve made and make sure they are still working for me. I collect information until that time and spend an hour just doing a kind of data dump. I look at options for banks and also try to learn a little about investing and generally try to stay up to speed with why I’ve made the choices I have. I look for ways to make my money work a little harder for me.
How do you organize your financial time, energy, and resources?