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5 Tips To Simplify Your Personal Finances in the New Year

by Laura Adams

Thinking about making some financial New Year’s resolutions? One of the most powerful resolutions you can make is to simplify your personal finances. Paring down your accounts, files, bills, systems, and so on, can make it easier for you to stay on top of your money. Having too many things in too many places adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to your financial life. There’s a Zen-like awareness that comes from being organized and in touch with every aspect of your money.

tips to simplify personal financesThe goal is to create a system to manage your money that allows you to stay informed and to meet deadlines in as little time as possible. If managing your money takes too long or is difficult, you’re likely to put it off or to spend your time doing something that you enjoy more.

Use the following five tips to become more efficient at managing your money in the New Year:

Simplicity Tip #1: Create an easy filing system.

For many people, filing is a dreaded task. To make sure you don’t let papers pile up, sort your incoming mail in a portable file box with hanging file folders. Keep the file box in a handy location where you open your mail, like the kitchen or your home office. Use different folders to sort various types of paperwork like receipts, bills, documents to shred, documents to file, and so on, until you can process them. Be sure to know which documents to keep and for how long to keep them.

To see step-by-step instructions on how to set up a filing system that’s simple to use and will keep you super organized, watch a video that I created. It’s one of the bonus gifts you’ll receive when you sign up at SmartMovesToGrowRich.com.

Simplicity Tip #2: Keep a financial routine.

When you feel overwhelmed, you’re more likely to put off important financial tasks. Stick to a routine where you set aside time each week to pay your bills, match receipts to cleared transactions, reconcile bank statements, monitor your budget, review your investments, and complete your filing, for instance. In my new book, Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich, I show you how to create a smart money management system using modern technology. You’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment to know you’re on top of your finances every week.

Simplicity Tip #3: Receive digital financial documents.

Whenever possible, opt for e-bills and e-statements. Most financial institutions, credit card companies, utility companies, and service providers offer to deliver your mail electronically. Not only are e-documents better for the environment, but they’re better for you! They help protect you from identity theft, reduce the amount of paper you have to process or shred, and allow you centralize all your incoming financial documents. You can go online to view older documents or print them out if needed.

Simplicity Tip #4: Use online bill pay.

Most banks offer online bill pay as a free service. It’s a fantastic way to save time and money and to make sure no bill ever falls through the cracks. Let your bank handle your payments and stop writing checks, addressing envelopes, and buying stamps! The bill service either transfers your money electronically or mails a paper check to any individual or company in the country that you want to pay—whether it’s your next-door neighbor or your mortgage lender.

Simplicity Tip #5: Consolidate investment accounts.

Your investments will be much easier to monitor when they’re in one place. Consolidate your investment accounts whenever possible by using one brokerage company only. You can move 401(k)s from previous employers by doing a tax-free rollover into an IRA or into a retirement plan at your new workplace. That allows you to log into one online account, receive one statement, and to deal with one institution when you have questions.


Published or updated January 18, 2013.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Briana @ GBR

For a filing system, I found a really cool tool last night called Shoeboxed, which allows you (or their team) to scan your receipts and documents. You can also connect it to EverNote, for a completely digital filing system.

My financial routine starts when I get paid. I pay all bills on payday, and have automatically set up transfers to my savings accounts so I won’t forget to pay myself.

I’ve opted for ebills for all of my accounts, and pay my bills online too. I’m a firm believer that once you’re organized, you can think a lot clearer.

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2 krantcents

I totally agree! I have been doing 1-4 for years. I am consolidating my investments in January. Good post.

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3 Laura Adams

Thanks for the comments and filing tips! Keep up the great money management. The best systems let you get the job done as effortlessly and quickly as possible. Here’s to making 2011 your best money year ever!

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4 twentysomethingmoney

For the financial routine, I simply set up recurring reminders in my calendar. Its hard to forget, when your computer and phone keep reminding you!

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5 BROKE PROFESSIONAL

One of the things I enjoy for keeping track of savings is using the ING Direct savings feature where you can move money into different “categories” you create. So I will have a car fund, a house fund, an emergency fund, etc. Seeing them laid out like that visually really helps and makes it to so I only have to use one bank. I am surprised most other banks have not caught on to this…its the reason why I personally will not chase rates as much as I otherwise normally would.

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6 Ryan@TheFinancialStudent

The digital documents is huge! I scan any paper documents I receive and try to get as many as possible delivered as PDFs in the first place. Then I organize them into folders/Evernote. Never have to search for things come tax time/FAFSA time, etc.

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