8 Tips To Organize Your Finances In 2021
The new year is always a great time to build new habits that can improve your life. After the financial difficulties of 2020, you may want to consider finding ways to protect yourself and your family from another unexpected disruption. While something like the COVID-19 pandemic is impossible to predict, you can prepare by organizing your finances.
Organizing your finances is particularly crucial if you want to improve them in 2021. Doing so will help you avoid missed or late bills, penalties, and other costs. Not only that but having well-organized finances can make for a smoother tax season and make it easier to reach your financial goals.
US News My Money offers eight tips to organize your finances.
Pay Yourself First
How many times have you heard experts say this? While you might be tired of hearing it, there’s a reason why so many gurus continue to tout this wisdom. That’s because saving is so much easier when you don’t even realize what you’re missing.
For example, your employer may have an option to automatically deduct a portion of your wages and deposit them into a savings account. Many companies offer this benefit, but if not, you can easily do it yourself by enrolling in automatic transfers between your bank accounts. You can even get automatic transfers and deposits sent directly to your preferred retirement account.
Stay On Top Of Spending
If you want to get better at managing your money, you need to know where it goes in the first place. Not only that but tracking your spending will make it much easier to collect information when filing your taxes.
There are several digital programs to help, including Quicken, Mint, Personal Capital, or Tiller. Alternatively, you can always do it old school with a pen and paper. Some software connects to your bank account and automatically categorizes your spending for you, while others are more hands-on and require manual efforts. Either way, it’s essential that when you find a method, you stay with it.
Organize Your Records
The world hasn’t transitioned to a completely paperless existence, which means you still need to hold onto several types of financial paperwork. Develop a filing system that you can stick with, such as a file cabinet or box, can make it easier.
At the very least, you should have a designated container that you can easily find during tax season. It would be best if you used it to keep receipts, stock records, medical insurance information, estate planning files, and home maintenance invoices. And if you have electronic documents, always check that they are backed up to an external hard drive or the cloud.
Create A Budget
Making a budget is one of the first steps toward better finances. If you want to cut back your spending and build good habits, a budget is an excellent place to start. If you are married or live with a partner, make a habit of talking about your household expenses to ensure you’re on the same page. You can make a budget with a pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or apps like YNAB or Mint.
Keep Your Files Up-To-Date
What better time to ensure your financial records are updated than at the beginning of a new year? When you do this, make sure that your 401(k) beneficiaries are current, your will is written (if necessary), and that you have your health care and estate planning paperwork in order. It would also help if you made sure that automatic payments are still connected to the correct bank account.
Organize Your Online Records
How many passwords, usernames, and accounts do you use online? Chances are, it’s too many to count. Now is a good time to get on top of these. Start by writing down each account and login credentials in a notebook or downloading a password vault like LastPass. While you do so, you might consider opting out of shopping emails that could tempt you into making unnecessary purchases.
Make Your Mail Station
Chances are, you receive your most important files — such as bills and financial statements — through the mail. However, as many companies continue to shift toward paperless options, these documents can easily get overlooked. The best way to handle your mail is to keep it organized as you get it. This could be as easy as getting a few containers and writing labels such as “Bills to Pay,” “To File,” or a reminder to take action.
- Mears, Teresa. “8 Easy Ways to Organize Your Financial Life.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 5 Jan. 2017, money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-budget/slideshows/8-easy-ways-to-organize-your-financial-life?slide=2.