Does thinking about your finances make you anxious or stressed? You’re not alone. According to a survey published on CNBC.com, a staggering 73% of American adults rank finances as their #1 stressor in life. So, how do you shed the stress and feel at ease and in control of your financial situation? First, take a breath. Next, get organized!
Getting organized doesn’t just mean physically organizing the clutter and paperwork on your desk or kitchen table, it means mentally, too. Since emotions regarding money can feel obtrusive—or worse, we avoid them altogether—it’s important to take the time to mentally organize finances as well.
To get in control and less stressed when it comes to money, your finances need to be both physically and mentally organized. That way you can curb unwanted spending and increase your wealth, in addition to find financial peace.
But where do you start?
How to physically organize your finances
Every person is different and therefore will have a different methodology to how they best feel organized and in control of their finances. Some people swear by using spreadsheets for budgets and bills coming due, and others prefer using apps on their smartphone. Stick with what works for you when it comes to the tools you use (but don’t be afraid to try something new!).
Here are five ways we suggest you get your finances physically organized.
Budgeting: Revisit or recreate your budget at least once a year, or when big life events happen (new job, new house, etc.) A budget allows you to visually see your income, expenses, and the amounts you have for saving and spending all in one place. (Learn how to make one here.)
Tracking: Tracking your expenses means that you write down every purchase you make and bill you pay. This habit allows you to see where your money is going and if you’re staying within your budget. Consistency is essential when tracking your expenses. Look for apps that allow you to track your spending in real time to help you stay honest.
Autopay: If you have reoccurring bills such as utilities, credit cards, and car payments, consider signing them up for “auto pay.” This eliminates the need for paper statements to be mailed to your house and will reduce the amount of paperwork you’ll have to sort and file. Autopay also ensures that you’re paying bills on time.
Store bills and statements digitally: As we referenced above, paper statements that are mailed to you have a way to piling up. Sign up for paperless statements or “e-statements” and have all your bills and statements emailed to you. This cuts paper waste, clutter, and can be more convenient than a filing cabinet.
Shred old documents: Some paper documents may be important to physically have on hand such as your income tax worksheets, invoices, or receipts. If you have documents that are more than two or three years old, consider scanning them to your computer for digital storage and then shredding the older ones. By shredding unneeded documents, you not only clear up space, but help keep your accounts and identity secure and free from potential fraud or identity theft.
How to mentally organize your finances
Of course you can physically organize your finances and still not feel organized. That’s because you need to get your head in the game, too! Try the following:
- Begin where you are and take baby steps if necessary
- Take stock of your feelings and beliefs about money. How did your family talk (or not talk about) money in your childhood?
- Look at your bank accounts daily—no more avoidance!
- Add paydays and bill due dates to your calendar for easy visibility
- Have open, honest conversations about money with your partner or spouse
- Revisit your budget often and adjust when needed
- Review your credit score annually (Check out why that’s important here.)
- Set boundaries around spending particularly around the holidays
- Seek advice from a trusted friend or counselor
When you take the time to review your accounts regularly, add important dates to your calendar and monitor your credit report, you’re actively taking control and telling yourself, “I got this!”
Will organizing my finances really make a difference?
Yes, we wholeheartedly believe that once you’ve taken the steps to organize your finances, everything else will fall into place! Organizing your finances can lead to:
Less stress and anxiety: a calmer, more collected mind
More clarity: noticing important details, bad money habits, establishing goals
Improved decision making: regarding spending, saving, future investments
Empowerment: taking ownership and control; desire to continue growing
Accomplished goals: the part you’ve worked so hard to achieve!
Pro tip: “Balance out” payday expenses by changing due dates on your bills.
It may seem easier said than done, but the hardest part is the decision to start. From there, take small steps and try one new thing at a time. Once you’ve mastered your budget, then work on tracking your expenses.
Your entire family will notice how positive and empowered you are when you’re in control and at ease with your finances. Having a good relationship with money is not only possible but preferred. The best way to start is through simple organization.
Sources: cnbc.com, thebalance.com, mint.intuit.com, doctorfinances.com