Financial organization can seem daunting when there's not much free time in the day, but with some planning and new habits, taming your finances may be easier than you think.
Bank of America says consumers can take advantage of programs that not only integrate smoothly into their daily lives but go to work for them as well. Julie Morgenstern, best-selling author and an expert on organization and time management, agrees with this approach.
"Consumers respond to financial programs that require little to no disruption in their everyday routines," Morgenstern says. "The key to success is to focus on easy-to-implement habits that can yield short- and long-term results."
Consumers who are looking for a way to organize their finances can consider the following five steps as a perfect start:
1. Simplify. When setting your goals, the more specific you are, the better.
Identify priorities and create a list of your top financial goals such as tackling student loans, saving for a home or growing your savings. Select one time in your schedule to take care of all your financial activities and then be sure to stick to that schedule.
2. Track everything, including your progress. Create a plan to achieve your budgeting and savings goals. Take advantage of online savings and budgeting tools to see how your expenses compare to your savings goals. Some examples can be found at bankofamerica.com.
3. Automate. Establish habits and use technology to avoid missing deadlines and payments. When your savings are on automatic pilot, there's less chance for conflict.
Setting up online bill pay can help save you the time it takes to write checks and visit the post office. Receiving notification alerts or setting up automatic payments for your monthly bills can also simplify your life.
4. Reduce clutter. An organized workspace is one less thing to worry about when it's time to focus on your finances.
Create a bill-paying station with a simple filing system by designating separate folders for monthly bank statements, unpaid bills, paid bills, receipts, taxes and insurance paperwork. Conserve paper and reduce paperwork by signing up for online statements and e-mail alerts.
5. Take small steps. When you're organizing your financial life, start with smaller, more manageable steps, which can lead to bigger success.
Saving should become a habit. Watch small amounts add up by using tools such as Bank of America's Keep the Change debit card, which automatically rounds up each purchase to the nearest dollar and puts the change into a savings account. Watch large amounts add up by arranging for automatic deposits from your paycheck into your employer's 401(k) plan.
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