At the beginning of the year, many of us set New Year’s resolutions and goals. When it comes to creating these resolutions, some people vow to be more organized with their finances, but only a few are willing to do the work it takes to achieve this goal.
According to Huffington Post, only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, and more than 80% have failed to keep them by the second week of February. However, it is never too late to set goals or get back on track!
Why is it that so many people fail to stick with their goals? One reason may be because we tend to set goals that are either too restrictive or hard to attain. Or, when we have little setbacks, we give up on our goal altogether. Whatever the case may be, there is a benefit to persevering in this endeavor.
Follow these eight suggestions for streamlining your Financial Organization:
1. Write down your goals. One way to hold yourself accountable and to remember what goals you have set is to write them down. Plus, many people love checklists because marking off accomplishments makes them feel empowered. It’s also enlightening to go back and look at the things that you have put off and the things that were most important to you.
2. Set small goals within your larger goal. If you have a goal that you want to be debt-free by the end of the year, set weekly goals to help you obtain this.
3. Set up a budget. Either set up your own excel spreadsheet or use an app such as EveryDollar (Dave Ramsey’s budget app) or Mint to put the plan on paper. (There are many budget apps out there, so be sure to do your own research and find the one that works best for you.) I personally have used EveryDollar for the past two years and have been very happy with it. It links to my bank account and credit cards so I can easily account for all of our spending. It is very user-friendly and makes you aware of how much is going out the door, so you won’t have any surprises.
4. Set budget meetings with yourself, spouse or significant other. My husband and I have a weekly budget meeting set on our calendar for Sunday afternoon. This helps us so that we are both on the same page as far as upcoming expenses, unaccounted expenses, bills and overall spending. We also use this time to go over meal planning, grocery shopping, and kid activities, as all of those items are budget-related. It’s beneficial to have these things figured out before the week begins.
5. Use Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball model. If paying off debt is one of your goals, always start with paying off the smallest amount of debt first. That way you are able to see these accomplishments happen faster, which, in turn, can be more motivation for you to continue to pay off your debt.
6. Automatically put money into savings. If you are wanting to save a certain amount over the next year, have a portion pulled out of your paycheck and go directly into a savings account. That way it is out of sight and out of mind; you’re building a nest egg without even thinking about it.
7. Organize your paperwork by creating files. This will save you time when you go to pay your bills or do your taxes. Everyone has their own way of organizing paperwork, so do what works for you.
8. Declutter once you have everything organized. I like to do bi-annual decluttering of our paperwork. I believe the best time to do this is when you do your spring cleaning and fall cleaning. This usually takes me about three to four hours, and I work best when scheduling these types of things on my calendar. Make sure to hang on to the items that you need for your tax returns, but shred everything else. You can do this yearly, but I feel it is less overwhelming to declutter twice a year.