5 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Finances This Summer
We could all use a little motivation to declutter our lives. Luckily, National Simplify Your Life Week, celebrated the first week of August each year, urges you to do just that. Starting with a simple pocket purge, these five tips will help you get things under control.
1. Clean out your wallet.
Or your purse, if you carry one. Empty everything out and take stock. Clear out those useless business cards, expired coupons and ancient receipts. You might even find some gift cards you’ve neglected to spend.
Now take that philosophy and apply it to your office desk. Go through those piles of junk mail and break out your paper shredder. Having your paperwork organized is good for your health: Studies have shown that clutter causes stress.
2. Carry less and consolidate.
If you’re carrying a high balance on a few credit cards, stop carrying them around. Some people actually encase their cards in blocks of ice, but you could use your home safe or safety deposit box.
Next, consolidate your accounts. If you have a 401(k) that you haven’t rolled over, now is the time. If your family has accounts at more than one bank, choose one and stick to it. The same goes for cellphone carriers, insurance providers and other services.
3. Go paperless and automatic.
Set up as many bills as possible to be paid online from your checking account. It will reduce your time spent writing out and mailing checks. You should also set up your direct deposit to shuttle a certain amount into savings from each paycheck, so you won’t be tempted to spend that “extra” balance.
4. Throw things away.
I went into my basement the other day and was blown away by all the kids’ stuff we have that goes unused. Clutter builds up, and before you know it your garage is so full you can’t get to any of the things you’ve spent your hard-earned money on.
Cleaning out even small storage areas like closets or kitchen pantries can be illuminating. You might find that you’ve been accidentally stockpiling toothpaste, or remember those fabulous boots that deserve to be worn more often. You’ll stop wasting money on perishables and feel richer using the things you can finally find. It’s never a bad idea to stop before each purchase and ask yourself, Do I really need more stuff?
5. Consult experts.
Consider hiring an accountant to do your taxes if they’re anything beyond the most simple of filings. A reputable financial institution will have people you can sit down with to talk about your financial future, whether it involves your retirement accounts, mortgage, unsecured debt, auto loans or just your credit score.
Simplify Your Life Week is all about getting rid of unnecessary distractions so that you can focus on what’s important. Spending the time to get your financial house in order will ultimately free up more days to spend the way you want. Maybe you can even find time to play with some of the fun stuff you found in the basement!
Kat's Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.