The first thing you need to do
before getting your finances under control is to have a desk or someplace to do
paperwork. In a cubbyhole in my desk I have a bill paying tray. It includes the
bills, checkbook, stamps, address labels, envelopes, a calculator and a notebook
to write when the bills are due. Make yourself a bill-paying area.
Find a way to keep track of when bills are due. Near the first of the month
I look over last month's page to make sure everything was paid. Then I write the
4 or 5 fridays of this month down on the next page of the notebook. Next to the
date I write which bills will get paid, going by last months dates. Other people
use a calendar to track the dates. Some people pay the bill right away and just
put the date to send on the envelope where the stamp will be.
the mail comes in, check for any bills. Open them up, throwing out the outside
envelope. If the bill is not in my notebook I add it. But, most of my bills are
already in the notebook. Then the bill goes into your bill-paying station. Some
people have their bills in a to pay file folder, a wooden wall mail holder, or
a basket. Use what feels comfortable for you..
Now it's time to pay bills.
I do mine every Friday, other people prefer once or twice a month. I usually try
to have some music on for this tedious chore. I use the program Quicken to track
my checkbook. So before I pay bills, I type in this week's transactions.
of my bills I pay online. During the past couple years, most companies have sent
information on how you can pay your bill online. You no longer get paper statements,
instead you are e-mailed when your bill can be viewed online. The money is taken
straight from your checking account. No stamps. No lost mail. You can also use
online banking if your bank offers it. But, usually there is an extra charge.
After I pay my bills, I put the other half of the bill into an accordian file
under each month. Other people separate their bills by utilities, credit cards,
etc. Most don't need to be saved, except for tax purposes.
month within a couple of days of getting your checking statement, balance the
checkbook. If you wait, balancing the checkbook is more difficult. I use Quicken
to make it easier. If you are unsure about how to balance a checkbook here is
To organize receipts for things you have purchased, get a 3-ring
binder. In it include sections such as: computer receipts, electronics, small
appliances, large appliances and furniture. Place each receipt in a plastic sheet
protector along with the warranty and manual. That way you have the receipts in
case anything breaks and you want to use the warranty.
you are in debt, Quicken
has a debt reduction
planner on its site. It will help you find out the quickest way to get out of
debt for the least amount of money. Usually the best way is to pay the minumum
on all your credit cards except one-either the one with the largest interest rate
or the smallest debt. Pay as much as you can on that one. Once that one is paid
off you add what you were paying to another debt on your list. That one can get
paid off even faster. When that debt is paid you add what you were paying for
that debt to the next debt and so on. For example:
$1000 to Best Buy
$3000 to Citibank
$5,000 Car Loan
You can pay $600 per month to reduce your debt. So, The first month you pay
$300 to Circuit City, the minimum of $30 to Best Buy, the min of $80 to Citibank
and the min. of $190 on your car loan.
The next month Circuit City is paid
off so you pay $330 to Best Buy and the minimim on the rest. And so on.
way to stay out of debt for a car is after you have paid off your automobile continue
to put the amount of your car loan into savings. That way when you need a new
car you can buy one without another car loan.
You also need a
savings account. You should put at least 10% of your money into savings. If you
can't put 10% away, then see where you can cut expenses or raise money. Start
saving your change and forgoing the expensive coffee. It has been suggested that
we need to have in the bank enough money to cover 3-6 months worth of expenses,
just in case.
Make sure you have a household inventory
sheet. It doesn't seem urgent at the moment to do it (you wouldn't believe how
long I procrastinated) but you never know when you may need it. My insurance company
gave us a pamphlet with space to put each item in each room along with the date
purchased, purchase price, and serial number if applicable. Every January you
will want to go through your house again or just mark things down as you buy.
Suze Orman has loads
of resources for when you are ready to go deeper into financial learning. Learn
about retirement planning, wills, stocks, mutual funds and more.
You can get
your finances in order this year. Think positively!
Back to Financial
Beth Dargis helps the overwhelmed to create saner,
simpler lives. For free monthly Simple Self Care Calendar and Weekly Simplicity
Tips visit: http://www.encouragingcoach.com.
This article is Copyright © 2005 by Beth Dargis, Zeeland MI. To send feedback
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