How to Organize Your Finances
Getting started with personal finance can be daunting. Especially with so many personal finance apps, self-proclaimed gurus, and conflicting resources out there. Here’s a simple guide with 4 no-nonsense steps you can take to organize your finances and take control of your money:
1. Maintain a Calendar
Set up a financial calendar for yourself to keep track of important dates and deadlines, such as due dates for bills, loan payments, and credit card payments. Schedule money review dates for yourself (and your partner, if applicable) to review your progress and evaluate your financial situation. Make sure you monitor this calendar regularly and use it to ensure you don’t miss any key dates as you progress toward your goals.
I personally use Google Calendar for tracking important financial dates & events, but you should use whatever tool works best for you. The important part is finding a way to keep track of important dates in a manner you’re receptive to. If you’re looking for a tool to help you get started, here’s my 2023 financial checklist freebie.
2. Automate Everything
The majority of my financial systems (bill payments, transfers, investments) are running on autopilot. Automating your financial processes reduces the likelihood of human error and frees up time to focus on more important financial decisions!
If it makes sense for your personal financial situation, consider setting up automatic payments for bills and automatic transfers/investments in your brokerage account(s). Remember to add a “money date” to your calendar to review these automations periodically and make sure they are occurring as expected.
3. Consolidate and Simplify Accounts
While it can be tempting to open multiple bank accounts, brokerages, and credit cards to get those sweet sign-up bonuses (I do this a ton myself, so I get it), it can also lead to a cluttered mess that’s hard to keep track of. If you’re great at maintaining and monitoring a big running list of accounts, then that’s fantastic. But if you’re struggling to keep track of everything, it might be worth closing out accounts and consolidating them to streamline and organize your finances. When it comes to closing credit cards, remember that doing so may affect your credit score (you may want to consider down-grading them instead).
4. Track and Categorize Expenses
If you’re interested in making good financial decisions, understanding where your money comes from and where it goes is crucial. Tracking your expenses will help you gain insight into your spending patterns and identify areas for improvement.
There are several personal finance apps out there that automate the process of expense tracking and categorization. I personally like using Monarch Money for all my personal finance needs. But I’ve also heard great reviews for Personal Capital, Mint, and YNAB. And if you prefer not to use an app, self-tracking through spreadsheets works just as well.
Bonus Tip: Find a Motivating Community
The personal finance community on Instagram has taught me so much about personal finance. From practical tips for building wealth to deep insights about my own spending behaviors. I highly recommend connecting with like-minded accounts there. And if Instagram isn’t your thing, you can read books about wealth-building, follow finance blogs like Penny’s or mine, or listen to money podcasts to enhance your knowledge.