Life moves quickly, but money can move faster. Whether you’re opening your first 401(k), buying a home or planning for retirement, your money needs your attention. These budget hacks can make managing your finances much easier.
1. Create a Dedicated Space for Managing Your Finances
Designate a space where you can budget and plan. It could be an entire room, just a desk or even a dedicated drawer for monthly bills. Also, consider a digital space for the same purpose. Services like EveryDollar, You Need a Budget and Mint create all-encompassing digital spaces that help you stay on top of your finances.
2. Decide Which Documents to Keep
Too much paper can be the downfall of good money management intentions. As a general rule, keep these documents and info in a safe place.
- Social security cards
- Marriage license
- Wills, living wills and powers of attorney
- Business licenses
- Vehicle titles and loan documents
- House deeds and mortgage documents
- Insurance policies
- Birth certificates
- Valid and expired passports
- ID cards
- Pension plan documents
- Seven years of tax records and filing receipts
- One year of medical records and bills
- Warranty documents and receipts for large purchases
- All home purchase, sale or improvement documents for at least six years after you sell your house
- One year of pay stubs and bank statements
- Annual insurance policy statements
- Social security statements
- Retirement plan statements
Shred everything else. Once you’ve paid a bill, there’s no reason to keep it. Shred anything containing personal information like your name, address, phone number and banking details. You don’t want your data falling into the wrong hands.
3. Create a “Budget Binder” to Track Your Expenses
Start a dedicated folder (whether physical or digital) to hold your budget, bills and additional documents, like vet bills, kids’ sports registration fees and warranty information. Tracking all your deposits and deductions will indicate where you’re spending. A budget binder is also the ideal spot for a financial calendar. Plot upcoming paydays and bill deadlines to help you visualize your expenses.
4. Use a Bill Payment Organizer
Whether you organize your bills in order of importance, due date or by type, determine which are due first to help you set your budget. Use a binder or bill payment organizer to arrange the order of your bills, even if they’re automatically deducted.
5. Prioritize Your Bills
Which bills should you pay first? This is an important part of budgeting. We recommend prioritizing your bills in the following way.
- Mortgage or rent
- High-interest credit cards or loans
- Low-interest credit cards or loans
- Other bills or recurring payments
6. Schedule Time to Review Your Finances
Set aside time each pay period to review your finances and upcoming expenses and bills. Developing a routine will help you prepare for what’s ahead, eliminating costly surprises. And each quarter, schedule time to think about big-picture financial questions. Should you start building a bigger emergency fund? Is it time to save for a new house or car? Are you ready to contribute more to your retirement?
7. Consider Automatic Deductions
Automatic deductions and deposits can relieve a lot of the stress surrounding managing your finances. But it also means you need to plan ahead to have the necessary funds available each month. The paperless convenience isn’t worth it if you’re overdrawing your account.
8. Get Support From Someone You Can Count On
Managing your finances can be daunting but you don’t have to do it alone. Your Farm Bureau agent is always here to help.
Managing Your Money Made Easy
For more financial planning tips, speak with your local Farm Bureau agent about ways to plan for and protect your future.