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Steps to Simplify Your Finances3/21/2018

Have you ever missed a payment? Maybe more than once? Have you made payments twice because you couldn’t remember having already done so? If your finances have gotten overwhelming, it’s time to organize and simplify. Check out our eight easy ways to get your financial life under control.

Automate bill payments

One surefire way to make sure you always pay bills on time (and don’t pay them more than once) is to automate your payments. You can do so by setting up automatic payments by credit or debit card, using your credit union’s Online Bill Pay or authorizing automatic debits from your account.

Pay yourself first

The easiest money to save is the money you never see. Many employers allow you to have money from your paycheck deposited directly in to a savings account. If your employer doesn’t offer that option, let a credit union representative know you want to set up an automatic transfer from your checking to savings. You can also set up recurring, automatic transfers within Online & Mobile Banking, with the option to select the frequency of the transfers, which can continue indefinitely until you specify otherwise.

Know your spending

Don’t just track your spending, know your spending! This is Money Management 101. Know how much you spend on gas, groceries, coffee and more within Online & Mobile Banking. This allows you to get a snapshot and track how much you are spending within each category. Assess your spending and see where you might be able to cut back.

Organize your files

For those financial documents you still have on paper, create a filing system that works for you, using a file box or file cabinet. At a minimum, have a place to put receipts for tax time, stock statements, medical insurance information, estate planning documents and repair records for your home. For critically important files, consider purchasing a fire-proof safe to store these documents, or open a safe deposit box at any of our neighborhood branch locations. If some of your files are electronic, make sure you have them backed up to external drives or to the cloud.

Make a budget

A budget can help you control your spending and ensure you don’t spend more than you make. It can also help you keep your spending priorities in check. Couples should periodically discuss their household budgets and make sure both parties are in sync with how their money is being spent.

Update your documents

Take a moment to ensure all of your financial documents are still current. That includes updating beneficiaries on 401(k) and retirement accounts, checking accounts, and estate planning documents. You may also want to ensure any automatic payments you set up are still configured properly.

Organize your online accounts

We all have numerous password-protected online accounts including Online Banking, retail sites, and email. Do you know where all of your accounts are? Create a list of your accounts, usernames and passwords, and keep it in a secure place, like a password-keeper app (which means you’ll only have to remember one password!) or a locked filing cabinet or safe.

Create your own mail station

Many important documents, including stock statements and medical bills, still arrive in your mailbox. But as paper mail becomes a less prominent part of our life, it’s easy to ignore it as it arrives. The most efficient way to deal with mail is to organize it as soon as it comes in. You may need something as simple as a set of boxes labeled “Bills to Pay,” “Documents to File,” and “Items that Require Action.”

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