Did you know that the secret to achieving financial freedom is simply being organized? Your finances are dynamic which means accessing your information immediately is critically important. Unfortunately, this very challenging when your finances are cluttered and disorderly. Luckily you can successfully organize your finances by following our 3 steps.
Step 1: Declutter
Throw it away
Do you keep store flyers in your kitchen drawer? Is your wallet or purse stuffed with old receipts and expired coupons? How about checks from previous bank accounts or expired credit and debit cards? Except for receipts needed for a warranty; everything should get tossed in the trash.
Now that you threw away the worthless stuff let’s separate those things that have value. Now just because something has value doesn’t mean you need to keep it (that may seem like a no-brainer but many people have a tough time letting go of their possessions); however, if it’s not being used why not liquidate that clutter into some easy money? So, gather those video games that are gathering dust, clothes taking space in your closet, appliances that are taking over your kitchen, jewelry you know you will never wear and sell them. Except for ‘sentimental reasons’ (use this definition wisely) nothing should be off limits.
Don’t want to go through the hassle of selling your valuables? Then donate them. There is nothing more satisfying than giving away your stuff to someone in need or who would appreciate it. Ask around and see if anyone you know would want your items or donate it to businesses such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill (these are just examples there are tons of local businesses and non-profits that love donations).
P.S: Your donations can also lead to a future tax break so it’s really a win-win for everyone.
Step 2: Sort & Verify
Wallet and Purse
Do you store every credit card you own in your wallet or purse? If so, stop! All credit cards are not created the same. Empty out your wallet and only carry the cards that offer extra value to you. “Extra value” are the cards that provide incentives like rewards (that you would use) and/or low interest rates. For instance, carrying a card with a 24% interest rate when you have a card with a 10% interest rate that also offers cash back doesn’t make much sense.
Also, do you have a reward or gift card that you are not using? Unless you are saving them for a specific purpose-use them! That’s extra money just sitting there.
Technology has taken over the world-use this to your advantage! There is a plethora of apps that help you save money while shopping, create budgets, figure out debt payoff strategies, check how much money you have, allow you to transfer money, and so much more. If you are willing to input your information, then getting a clear view of your finances can happen instantaneously by simply opening an app on your phone or tablet.
The one thing that hurts people the most is the information listed on their credit report. Unfortunately, the burden of correcting that information falls on you; so making sure everything is valid is a must. Every year you are allowed one free credit report from Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Check all of the reports to make sure that all of the information on it is truly yours. Once you validated everything look at those debts and begin prioritizing which ones need to be paid off first.
Step 3: Create a Financial Plan
The most important aspect of your financial plan should be addressing your debts. As we have mentioned numerous times, having debt is very oppressive. Although it may not seem that way initially, debt shackles you from truly living life own your terms. So, make paying off those debts (remember the ones you marked from your credit report earlier) an immediate priority. Remember the faster you get rid of those debts the faster you can spend your money on the things you want!
Now that you freed up your cash flow by lowering your debts it’s time to use that extra money to increase your savings. A lack of savings is the biggest reason why people have financial problems in the first place. Although the general rule of thumb is to save ten percent we suggest you regularly save as much as your budget will comfortably allow.
Invest & Indulge
Now that you have begun a saving regimen you should begin looking for ways to invest your money. For many people investing is simply growing your money (‘making your money work for you’) but what about investments that help you grow as a person? Investing in yourself is a phrase we use to simply say “hey, don’t forget to treat yourself!” Whether it means taking a vacation or grabbing a bite to eat, rewarding yourself whenever possible will help keep you motivated and more likely to continue achieving your financial goal(s).
Organizing your finances may seem like an exhaustive process; but when finished you will be better prepared to tackle financial situations quickly and effectively.