Updated: Mar 1
By and large, there are two types of people in this world; those of us who are organized and those of us who are not! If you are routinely misplacing bills, checks, and statements that you should be cashing, paying, or filing part of the problem may be the sense of “too much” -ness. De-cluttering your financial life is as simple as simplifying and minimizing the ways that you handle and manage your money with the goal of leaving as little room for human error as possible.
Of course simplifying a part of life that, for many, is often the most complicated and produces the most stress sounds like a wonderful idea. If it’s so simple, why doesn’t everyone do it? My best guess is that the comfort that established routines and stability offer outweigh the perceived benefits of taking the steps to adjust. However, with just a few changes, anyone can enjoy the benefits of a decluttered financial life.
If you don’t already own one, start by purchasing a shredder. Most utilities, banks, and service providers offer virtual statements. There simply is no need to keep or store old bills and statements. Shop around to find the best deal for your budget and need. A cross-cut shredder is the most secure, but one that cuts into strips will do the job. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, and who isn’t, try searching Craigslist.com or your local thrift stores before investing in a new one.
Now, whether you receive paper bills or electronic ones, make it a habit to pay them right away. If you are the type to open a bill and wait a few days or weeks before paying, you’re just adding additional steps to the process. During this time you run the unnecessary risk of losing the bill, forgetting to pay, and even accruing late fees. If your budget restricts you from paying every bill as soon as it arrives, decide right away what day you will pay. Most websites will allow you to pay online and even schedule your payments in advance.
Disposable spending money should be stored in an account of its own to avoid overspending or spending money that is needed elsewhere. Payment of utilities and other bills can also be automated. If your service provider will not automatically debit your payments check your bank’s online bill pay system.
Split up your income into specific categories and assign a specific function to each category. Then, automate deposits into these accounts. Money that will be set aside for savings such as a 401k retirement plan can be automatically deducted from your pay and stashed in a separate account.
Finally, get rid of all the paper. There are a number of apps you can choose from to store receipts quickly and easily. With a quick scan, any other important documents can also be stored electronically with virtual tools such as NeatReceipts and NeatDesk. These tools, essentially, eliminate the need to store and keep hard copies of receipts and other documents that tend to take up space and clutter up your life.
Not every recommendation above will suit you. However, if you read this far down you must have found some value in the tips that were mentioned. The key is to start. Begin by adopting the most useful and applicable tip for your life from above and progress from there. You may be surprised how one good habit deserves another!