Things seem to run smoother when you are better organized. This is true whether you are planning a birthday party for a friend, a wedding, or your finances. When your financial life is organized, you are more likely to stay on track — and less likely to be wasting money.
If you are ready to take charge of your financial life, streamlining it for better effect, here are 4 actions you can take:
1. Consolidate Your Accounts
It can be difficult to keep track of several accounts in various places. Recently, I decided to finally consolidate my Roth IRA accounts. I transferred the amount I kept in one Roth IRA (with high mutual fund fees) to another. It makes sense to consolidate accounts when possible in many cases. Having your investments spread out can dilute their effectiveness.
Consolidation can also make sense for your other accounts. I find it easier to manage my finances when I have my checking, business checking, and personal line of credit with one bank. (I did go elsewhere for savings, though, because I wanted a higher yield.) Think about how much work it is to manage your accounts across several institutions, and then change things up to better reflect your needs.
Don’t stop with bank accounts, though. You can also consolidate your insurance. Many insurance companies will offer you a discount if you purchase auto insurance, homeowners (or renters) insurance, and life insurance from the same company. Bundle your insurance, consolidating to one company, can save you money, and make it easier for you to manage your insurance.
2. Automate Your Finances
Another great way to organize your financial life and streamline your money is to automate your finances. Match up your income with your bills, and arrange to have what bills you can automatically deducted. You can even automate your investments, retirement account contributions, and emergency fund savings.
You do need to be careful when you automate your finances, though. Double-check that your money comes out after your paycheck is firmly deposited. That way, you will be able to ensure that you have the funds to take care of everything. One of the worst things is to miscalculate when automating your finances and find that you are racking up huge fees.
3. Ditch Your Smaller Holdings
Instead of holding on to small stock, sell and reinvest elsewhere. Over time, thanks to losses, company splits, and other reasons, you might find that you have several small holdings just sitting there. Re-evaluate your need for them. Then, consider reinvesting the proceeds in a low-cost fund or ETF. Your money will work more efficiently for you.
You will have to determine whether or not you owe capital gains, though. If you sell at a loss, you can deduct your investment losses against your income. Get a tax deduction, and beef up your more effective investments at the same time.
4. Reduce Your Credit Cards
While it’s possible to manage several credit cards without getting into debt, you could probably be more efficient. Evaluate your credit situation, and your rewards cards. Choose cards that offer rewards programs that are generous, and that you can use. Consider asking for credit limit increases on credit cards you plan to keep if you are worried about the reduction in credit availability. That way, you can cancel without as big an impact. Focus on one to three cards that will really give you a solid benefit.
Take a personal day to fix your finances, streamlining and organizing. Then, it will be easier to maintain your finances going forward.
Last Edited: 17th October 2012