Whether we like it or not, Summer is winding down and Fall is rolling in. Parents are getting back into the organized routine of the school year, which means the day to day function of the entire house is a little more streamlined. The kids shouldn’t be the only ones getting their ducks in a row, right?
Imagine Home Lending a few tips to get your finances in shape this fall. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the market for a new home or not, now is as good a time as any to get your fiscal matters in good order.
Determine a monthly budget. Start where you are. Identify the costs attributed to what you need, how much income you have, and how much you’re tucking away for savings. Then, determine your goal budget. Where can you remove excess spending? Do you have a monthly savings goal?
One tool we love is mint. Mint is an online money manager that tells you exactly where your money is coming from and exactly where your money is going. Mint makes it easy by auto important data from linked bank accounts. That information is translated for you into graphs and percentages that let you know how much money you're splurging on Starbucks every month.
It also offers helpful tools like protection against fraud by setting up alerts for unusual spending, credit report tracking, etc.
To get a clear picture of your current financial climate, have a system in place. It can be mint or you can go with an old-fashioned spreadsheet. It’s easy to let your spending go off the deep end with all the summertime fun in the sun. Let’s take the season change as an opportunity to see if our financial habits are aligned with our financial goals.
Manage your auto-pays, and set up paperless if you haven’t already. Because honestly. Who checks snail mail anymore? When you do, what percentage of it goes straight to the recycling bin?
If I had a dollar for every time my bank or internet provider sent me an envelope that said Important, open upon receiving…. I’d be a much wealthier woman. It’s easy for bills to get overlooked when they come in snail mail. So let’s go paperless! Paperless allows you to view your bills in an email, which is something you’re more than likely checking more than once per day.
I’d also assume that you have a few auto-pay accounts set up already, but what about the less obvious ones? Service providers, like doctors, that you don’t see very often probably don’t have an auto-pay system set up. However, most health care professionals offer online portals that will send you electronic notification of any bills that are available to be paid. Check with your health care providers about paperless billing to save you an overdue collections account.
Check your debt to income ratio. How much are you making compared to your monthly expenditures and debts? The mantra here is, "check yourself before you wreck yourself."
Again, it’s easy to let spending get a little out of control when left unregulated. Sometimes just getting a look at the bigger picture is enough motivation to shape up.
Declutter documents. It’s always good to keep original copies of important documents. It may come in handy to scan them and create a digital copy for backup as well.
Take some time to organize, label, and store the documents that you want/need to keep physical copies of. Keep them somewhere safe, somewhere dry, and somewhere the dog can’t get to them.
It’s bitter to admit Summer is ending. It’s even more unpleasant to realize how many weekends you have remaining until holiday shopping needs to be taken care of. Use this transitional season to get your finances organized. You don’t have to wait for new years to start a savings goal. You don’t have to wait until you’re applying for a mortgage to know what your credit score is.
What are your favorite tips and tricks to organizing your finances? Share it with us!