Each year many of us promise ourselves that we'll be better organized to save money. Yet after the New Year's celebrations have come and gone and we settle back into life's routine, we forget about those resolutions and fall back on old habits.
Here are five easy steps to help organize your finances and keep them that way.
Create a budget
Take a serious look at where your money goes. Are there ways to trim spending? For example, are you spending too much on cable TV or making too many coffee runs? These little expenses add up. When you create a budget, you'll see where your money goes and identify areas where you can cut back. Even the smallest amount of savings adds up over time.
When reviewing your budget you may find that some months require more money than others. For example, your electric bill may increase during the summer months when you're running your air conditioner. With a budget, you'll be able to adjust your spending accordingly to stay on track. This could mean going out to dinner twice a month instead of four times and using the money saved toward those higher electrical bills.
Track your spending
One of the easiest ways to keep your finances organized is to track your spending. When you don't see where your money goes it is easy to assume you're on budget. Keeping a log can help you determine how and where you spend your money. There are many ways you can track your spending besides using a check register. You can use a spreadsheet program on a computer or an app on your smartphone.
Pay bills on time to avoid late fees
When you're organized, you know when bills are due. And when you know that, you can avoid late fees that can sneak up on you and your busy lifestyle. There's a way to stay organized when your life is filled with work, children and friends use automatic bill payment. When you set up monthly bills to be paid automatically from your checking account, you'll gain more peace of mind because you're not worried about late fees. If you're hesitant about authorizing automatic payments, you can start by paying a single bill to see if you this service is right for you.
If you're incurring late fees because you can't keep track of your bills, start organizing your bills by their statement due dates so you'll know when a bill should be paid. Also, create a filing system that works for you.
Keep joint accounts balanced
It's easy to overdraw or have insufficient funds in a joint checking account when more than one person is listed on the account. The easiest way to avoid non-sufficient funds fees is to let the other account holder know about all transactions. Also, you should consider keeping a self-imposed minimum balance that all account holders agree to so you'll be covered against having the account overdrawn.
Joint account holders can set-up e-mail alerts for account transactions, low balances, transfers and withdrawals. By taking advantage of the latest online banking technology, they'll know when their account is at a low balance or falls below your target threshold.
Set a savings goal
Whether you are saving for a new car, a vacation, a home or something else, it is always easier when you set aside money for it. TCU's Target Savings account allows you to save regularly via automatic payroll deduction. And it comes with the additional benefit that you're earning dividends on your savings.
Take a few moments this month to focus on ways you can organize your finances. You'll be a better money manager for it. Find and stick to a system that works for you and you'll reap the benefits throughout the year.