Money makes you sweat. You’re tired of losing hours of sleep over something as simple as your checking account balance, yet you feel like every time you surrender your guard disaster strikes, and you inevitably lose even more.
There is a better way.
Follow these 7 simple steps and you will reduce the unnecessary stress that too many people bring into their relationship with money. Organize your finances to eliminate stress, and eliminate stress to live the healthier, happier life you deserve.
1. Organize Your Space
If you know where your bills are, you can get to them when you need to pay them. Once your mail is delivered, file it accordingly rather than let it pile into unmanageable mountains.
Bills that lay scattered from den to bedroom, piled on kitchen counters and dropped like crumbs along the way to the playroom floor are far less likely to get paid on time. Late bills cost money.
Set up a simple mail routine, trashing what needs to be trashed immediately, while intelligently filing the bills that need to be paid. Don’t put off what you have to do anyway. File smart, mail on time, and never pay a late fee again.
2. Be On Time
Late fees are the fastest way to owe more than you should. But, sometimes it’s difficult to know when everything is due. Dig in to discover when that cable bill is due, or whether you should pay your cell bill this week.
Rather than simply paying bills when you have the time, schedule times to sit and get it done a few times during the month. Your bills aren’t all due on the same day, so you don’t have to pay everything all at once. Take a look at all of your bills. Which are due first? Which are last? Spread them out so you pay them when you have the cash.
3. Don’t Let Your Statements Go Unread
You signed up for that credit card because the interest was low. But have you ever looked at what the rate is since then? Don’t fall for the low-rate bait. Keep your eyes on the fine print inside your statements, as terms can change.
If you find that your rate has jumped, give the credit card company a call and give them a chance to lower it. You never know until you ask.
4. Automatic Payments Can Be Your Friend
Maybe you’ve feared those auto-payments in the past, worried you might not have the funds to cover your purchases if your bills are already deducted. But, allowing for the automatic payments lowers fees for you from many companies and helps you stay on top of those payments which must be made.
Assign alerts so that you know when bills will be paid so you know what’s being withdrawn and when. Also, keep a watchful eye on your numbers and stay aware of what you must pay before making your next big purchase.
5. Protect your Account
Overdraft fees can murder your balance. If your bank offers overdraft protection, then sign up. You could be saving yourself fees on top of fees on top of more fees.
You can sign up for overdraft protection by linking your savings or a credit card to your checking account. Some banks even offer a grace period that will allow you to put the money back in up to two hours after you withdrew it.
6. The Fewer The Better
Instead of paying bill after bill, try to consolidate your efforts. If you have enough available balance on a lower interest rate credit card, shift a second card’s balance to that one. But be careful not to stumble over high transfer fees. They may sour a seemingly wise decision by piling more debt on top.
7. Don’t Just Automate Your Bill Pay
We open savings accounts with the best of intentions, but it’s all too easy to find that a year has passed and only one deposit was made. Take advantage of an automatic transfer to savings each month, and significantly grow that otherwise dormant account into something of substance.
Anything else missing here? What are your best tips for saving through organization?