Wouldn’t it help you to feel in control of your finances if you started 2017 with a plan for being fiscally organized? This year, instead of allowing the financial winds to take you where they may, plan out your year with a money checklist.
Besides peace of mind, a financial checklist can benefit you monetarily. The Today Show’s personal finance expert and author Jean Chatzky found that people who are better organized tend to be more financially secure and worry less about their finances. In fact, she found that 73 percent of people who considered themselves at least “pretty well organized” were in control of their finances compared to 42 percent who weren’t organized.
So what do you need to do to get organized in the New Year? Here’s a quick checklist that can get you started.
- Track your spending. There are several apps that can assist you with this if you use a smartphone or tablet and that don’t make this overwhelming. A service that functions like a Financial GPS can also help you organize your spending into categories for ease in budgeting and estimating monthly expenditures. You can also see if there’s an area where you need to make changes and even get alerts if you are spending too much in one category.
- Set goals. Did you know that writing your goals down gives you a head start on achieving them? Financial goals can help you get organized by giving you a concrete reason to be fiscally responsible.
- Set up automatic payments. Missing an outstanding payment is never fun, and usually, costs you in the form of past-due fees. Ensuring your bills will get paid can help reduce financial stress. Anything that can’t be automated should be kept in one specific area of your home, and you should put an alert on your calendar to pay at least one week before the due date.
- Pay into your savings first. Set up a direct deposit that routes a certain amount of your paycheck each month into a wealth-building account. If you don’t have it to spend, it will be easier to accumulate some extra. Having an emergency fund that covers 6 to 12 months of expenses can help you feel more in control.
- Check your credit report. You can legally get a free copy of your report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once per year. Set up a schedule for requesting one every four months so you can keep an eye on what’s being said about your credit. And do it directly through the companies — there’s no need to pay or get a third party involved in requesting your report.
- Review your retirement contributions. If you aren’t maxing out what you contribute, see if you can at least increase what you pay in.
- Check in with your financial experts. Talk to your financial advisor to make sure your portfolio is balanced the way you want it. Set up an appointment with your insurance agent to see if you can consolidate policies and save more money, or if you need more coverage than you have. Meet with your lawyer to update your will — or create one. Take advantage of the experts around you to help with financial organization.
Remember that organization is easier to manage in small steps. Start with one item on the checklist and get that under control before you move on. By tackling one thing at a time, you can be on your way to better financial organization and less stress in 2017. Have questions about getting your financial house in order? Call me, and I can help!