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5 Ways to Tidy Up Your Finances

By Yvonne Marsh, CFP®, CPA

Life is busy and we all have competing priorities on our time, right?  I know it doesn’t take much at our house before it starts to look a little messy, and I feel like I’m losing my grip on the week. It’s the same with our financial house – it’s easy to do the minimum to keep the bills paid, but still feel like our financial house is a little messy and we’re losing our grip on where the money is going each month.  The good news is that it just takes a quick sprucing and you’ll feel back in control again. Here are 5 tips to get you started: 

  • Make a simple spreadsheet of all of your savings and investment accounts noting where the account is held, how it is titled and a recent balance.  Then you can just update the balances twice a year and see how your savings and investments are growing over time. 
  • Keep the same spreadsheet for all of your debt, including credit cards, auto loans, home loans, student loans, etc.  Note who the debt is with, the total amount due, the interest rate you’re paying, plus the monthly payment.  Then if you have a little extra money, you can easily know which the highest interest rate debt is to pay off more quickly.
  • Especially important if you have a family that relies on your income, take a look at your life insurance and your disability insurance.  Make a list of your policies, the benefits it provides and the monthly cost.  If the results are reassuring and your family is protected, that’s great news.  If it unnerves you, then it’s time to take action and buy some more protection.
  • Take a look at your credit card statements and decide whether you’re really using all of those monthly subscription services that are so easy to sign up for.  And how about that expensive cable or satellite bill?  We cut ours from $140/month to $60/month and that feels really good. Spending more on fancy coffee than you realized? You don’t have to totally deny yourself that pleasure, just cut the number of splurges in half.
  • Reward yourself by putting the newfound savings to work making even more money!  Just a small shift from spending to saving creates financial security for you and your family. Invest $100/week for 10 years earning an average of 6%, and you’ll have a cool $71,000.

Personally, I took some time to review my family’s finances, and I feel much better.  I found a few items to tidy up and improve; I bet you will too. 

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