Organizing your financial house is just as important as organizing the home you live in. Just like a disorganized house can cause stress and overwhelm, having your finances in order won’t make your life any easier to navigate.
While the beginning of the year is a great time to organize your finances, you can do this at any time to create systems that help you regain control of your money and your financial goals.
Here are 7 steps to achieving an organized financial life.
Organize Your Financial Accounts
Managing your household finances can seem like a big ordeal - because it is. You may have several different bank accounts, investments, as well as debt that needs to be sorted through.
Start by dividing your financial accounts by placing them into categories like:
Banking (Checking, savings, CDs)
Investments (Brokerage, peer lending, retirement)
Debt (Credit cards, auto loan, mortgage, student loans)
Consider listing all these accounts in a spreadsheet where you can track the balance and make note of any updates.
If you’re using a spreadsheet to budget already, you may want to add a new tab and track your financial accounts there.
List Out Passwords and Answers to Security Questions
How often do you check in on all your financial accounts? Do you ever misplace your login information or are you unsure of how to check your 401(k) balance through your employer?
It’s important to have all your logins to your online banking and other financial accounts available in one place. That way, you can easily check a balance or transaction. Do the same thing with your debt accounts so you can easily log in to pay your balances and even consider setting up automatic bill pay to avoid late fees.
If you’re worried about having sensitive password information on your computer or in a notebook, consider using LastPass to securely store all your login information. LastPass uses just one master password and can protect and store your login information for multiple accounts.
Use a Budget Planner
One great way to better organize your finances is to use a budget planner. If you prefer having a written budget, a budget planner can help you keep your finances organized just like a day planner would help you organize your life.
Consider using something like the Clever Fox Budget Planner notebook to list out your expenses and track your income. This planner is also great for setting and tracking financial goals. If you ever need to look back and review your spending, you can use the expense tracker pages to account for past purchases.
Try a Bill Calendar
Have you ever forgotten to pay a bill before? When days get busy and the bills start coming in, it’s easy to lose track of what’s due and when. First, determine how you’d like to receive your bills. Do you prefer paperless billing and do you believe you’d be able to pay attention to email reminders?
Or, do you prefer to put bills on the fridge or somewhere prominent at home until you’ve scheduled a day to make the payment? If you’re organizing your finances with a spreadsheet, you may want to add each bill’s due date for that month next to the appropriate budget category.
Another option would be to use a bill calendar to plan out when each expense is due. You can make a printable bill calendar for free on Canva and customize it to meet your needs Or, you can pick up a dry erase calendar to stick on your fridge. Whatever you decide, make sure you use a system that you can commit to checking regularly so you can schedule your bills payments on time and avoid any unnecessary late fees.
Consider Using Budgeting Software
If you prefer to organize your finances online or via an app, try out budgeting software tools like YNAB. YNAB stands for You Need a Budget and it helps you do everything from organizing your expenses and setting budget goals, to tracking your income and purchases along with paying off your debt. Another budgeting software tool you can use is Quicken.
One of the key benefits of using budgeting software is that it often has automated features so you won’t have to do everything manually. You can also take advantage of reporting features and monitor your finances more closely without putting in a ton of time and effort.
Store Important Documents in One Place
Find a safe place to store all your important financial documents like your bank account beneficiaries, investment reports, life insurance information, and more.
Also, consider making copies of these documents and storing multiple back-ups. For example, you may want to organize some paper copies in a locked file cabinet but also back some files up on an external drive or cloud storage.
Just make sure you have an easy way to access the important documents you need when you need them. If you have a partner, make sure they know where all the important financial documents are as well. Set a goal to review and update your financial documents 1-2 times per year so everything is up-to-date.
Track Your Net Worth
While your income is important, one of the most important financial numbers to know is your net worth. Realize that you don’t keep all your income. If you want to retire someday or have the option to become financially independent, you’ll need to grow your net worth.
Your net worth represents your assets - liabilities. Liabilities are things like your debt, mortgage, student loans, etc. The best way to grow your net worth is to prioritize spending less than you earn, and track your net worth growth for motivation.
You can calculate your net worth each month and track it manually. Or, you can use a tool like Personal Capital to estimate your net worth automatically.
Start Getting Organized
There are so many benefits to organizing your financial life. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck financially, it’s time to peel back the rug and sort through your finances. Realize that avoiding debt and not keeping a budget can only provide temporary relief.
You can follow these steps to truly organize your financial life and regain control over your money.