How to Organize Your Finances in 5 Easy Steps

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Sometimes life can be downright overwhelming. Between groceries, work, family and friends, the list of responsibilities seems to continuously grow. And though we can occasionally decline going out or doing the laundry, there is one area that we simply can’t neglect: finances.

Yes, I’ve said it. The dreaded word: finances. There is nothing that can be as discouraging as hunting for receipts, going through piece after piece of mail that requires a check from you, or working through the humdrum of tax season only to be disappointed when you finish.

This necessary part of our life doesn’t have to be such a drag. Will it ever be as fun as hitting the town with your favorite people? Probably not. However, with a little organization, creativity and discipline, facing your bank account every month may not be so bad.

Here are a few ways to organize your life and ensure your spending habits are well in order.

Open Your Mail

Opening your mail may seem simple, but there are many times when it’s tempting to ignore it. Maybe it’s a credit card bill from your shopping excursion in NYC. Or maybe it’s that doctor visit from the time you decided you could dance like Miley or Nicki. Whatever it is, and whether or not you’re dreading its contents, you must open your mail. Discard what you don’t need. Keep what you need to address.

Organize Your Mail

There are many ways to organize your mail, but aim to create a system that organizes your bills by due date. Some people decide to pay bills twice a month. If that’s you, get two folders. One is for the bills to be paid in the first half of the month. The other is for the bills to be paid in the last half of the month.

Set Dates (and Treat Yourself)

Set dates for paying bills, and treat yourself while you’re going through them. Schedule a time to pay bills, whether it’s every Saturday, every other Sunday, or on the 1st and 15th of every month. Then, block out your time and don’t plan anything else. And because this can be somewhat of an unhappy time, treat yourself during the process. Get a latte or play some of your favorite music. Anything that will help you relax will make the process easier.

Create a Filing System

Once your bills are paid, file them. When you receive your bank statements, file them. If you receive paper paystubs, file them as well. Designate a place to keep your files, and make sure they are well-maintained. You don’t want to end up with a daunting, large pile of paperwork.

Try sorting your bills by vendor or by expense category. What about the other papers you don’t think you need? Chances are you probably don’t. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the paper, try de-cluttering with the help of technology.

Keep Your Tax Docs in One Place

As your tax documents start to filter in, create a file folder for them. This way, when it’s time to file your taxes, everything is in one place. A great way to make sure you’ve retained all of the proper documentation is to save everything electronically on your computer. For the documents you don’t have electronically, invest in a personal scanner. Having these files already saved to your computer will also make it easier when it’s time to apply for a loan.

Keeping on top of your finances doesn’t have to leave you with a headache. A little financial planning and few organizational strategies will help you stay on top of your finances.

Kate Wilson is a freelance writer and professional penny pincher who loves sharing her hard-earned wisdom with others. In her free time, you can find Kate enjoying her favorite pastimes a la the early 1900's, like public radio and classic American literature. Yes, really!

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