Great Savings Tip #84 – 8 Ways To Simplify Finances

 
Simplify your financial life.
 

This post is part of our Great Savings Tip series, designed to help you find ways to spend less and save more. For more ideas see our Great Savings Tips page with a complete list of all our tips. Here is today’s tip you can put to work immediately:
 

Create The Space To Try New Things

 

Less is more.

Take the steps to simplify your life.

Tip #84) Simplify. If you’ve been reading our posts you know we have lots of ideas for saving money.  Unfortunately, most of us lead busy lives and even if we have the intention to try out a few ideas, it takes time and effort to do so.  That time and effort can add up.  Ultimately, it can even be the stumbling block in your effort to save.  That’s why it’s important to create the space in your life for trying new things.  How do you do that?  Simplify.

 

8 Steps To Simplify

 

When it comes to simplifying money matters here are 8 steps to get started.

 

(1) If you have multiple bank accounts, you may have set up different accounts over time, may have changed banks along the way and forgot to close an account, or you may have certain accounts for certain things (for example, a savings account for big ticket items).  Sometimes, it makes sense to have multiple accounts.  This is especially true when you’re trying to save.  However, it’s worth thinking about the big picture. Each account requires tracking.  You need to know the balance.  Each account is subject to fees and certain expenses like the cost of checks.  By combining accounts you can reduce the time you spend balancing them and limit your overall costs.

 

(2) If you have several credit cards, you’ll also have separate bills for each one.  That means writing more checks when the bills are due.  In addition, each will charge interest and each may have an annual fee.  If you reduce the number of cards you use you may be able to reduce your interest expenses.  Plus, you should save on both the time and effort keeping track of them.

 

I.D. theft is made easier without a system to handle paper.

Do you really need to store all those old bills? Consider storing bills electronically on a secure back up hard disk or website.

(3) Everyone receives at least some kind of bill each month.  These could be credit card bills, utility bills, insurance bills, etc.  If you’re receiving bills via the U.S. mail, you end up with a paper copy.  That paper can easily stack up if you don’t have a system to take care of it.  Paper creates clutter, and unless handled properly presents a certain risk over time.  Identity thieves like people who stick with paper bills and statements because it provides easy access to some of your most private financial information.  This is especially true for bank and credit card statements.  It can therefore pay big time to keep your paper trail to a minimum.  You can do that by paying bills online (which also eliminates the need for so many stamps), and by opting in to electronic statements with your bank.  True, you may need to figure out a way to hang on to certain records for tax purposes, but those can often be kept electronically.  For more ideas on this, see our Tip #37  Protect Your Data and our Tip #61 Save Money On Printing.

 

(4) Do you have a lot of bills?  You may be able to combine some of them—for example, your cable, internet and phone bill.  You can also sign up for automatic payments with your bank.  Cutting the overall number of bills or taking care of them automatically can relieve a lot of the stress over remembering to send in a check every month.

 

(5) Are you still depositing your paycheck at the bank every time you get paid?  Many companies offer direct deposit as an option so enroll in it if it’s available.  Plus, some banks now have options for depositing checks from home, by either taking a picture or scanning them.  Check with your bank to see if this option is available.

 

(6) Are you getting a lot of unwanted offers for new credit cards over the phone or in the mail.  You can opt out.  If you haven’t done it yet, sign up for the governments “Do Not Call” registry and join the effort to stop junk mail.  Under the Federal Crediting Reporting Act, you also have the option to register with the credit rating agencies to opt out of receiving unsolicited credit and insurance offers by mail.  You can do this for five years or permanently, though in either case you can change your mind and opt back in.  Click the link for more details.

 

Are you using software to track your finances?

Use the tools that are readily available like this software from Quicken.

(7) Simplify all household bookkeeping tasks.  Start by keeping the paper you want to hang on to in one easy to access place.  Then use computer software to track all your finances.  Quicken or Mint offer good choices.

 

(8) Simplify your investments.  Do you have several investments?  Do you feel the need to watch them every minute?  Are they well-diversified?  To learn how to simplify your investments, spend less time tracking the market and still get better than market returns, read some of our posts on investing like the “The Lazy Investor” or “Collecting Rich Dividends“.

 

Combine, Reduce and Track

 

Any method for combining activities or bills, reducing the amount of paper you handle, or utilizing a system for tracking your monthly income and expenses works great for simplifying your life.  Start today.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

Keep In Touch

If you missed any of our tips you can find them by clicking on the “Zero-Based Living” drop down menu at the top of this page. You can also register with our site and we’ll send you an automatic notice for all our new posts. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
 

For the complete list of all our Great Savings Tips click here.

 

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