Streamlining your finances means more time for enjoying retirement. Whether you’re currently retired, counting down the days to retirement, or planning on continuing to work until your legs give out from under you, having your finances in order can make your life easier all around. Not sure where to start?
Here are 8 easy tips to streamline your finances and make managing your money easier.
The number one piece of advice from financial experts? Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate. The fewer bills you need to respond to, the less chance you have of making mistakes.
- Consolidating your credit cards should probably be the first step you take to streamline your finances. Most experts recommend that you have one main credit card—preferably with a cashback option as its perk—and one backup credit card for those occasions when your primary isn’t accepted. This way you only have one bill to keep track of, which is so much better than having multiple bills to juggle every month.
- Next, consolidate your banking accounts. Having multiple accounts open in different institutions is an easy way to lose track of where your money is, and even how much you really have. This will also make it easier to pay those bills you’ve consolidated if you know it can all come out of one place.
- Finally, many experts also suggest that you consider consolidating your 401(k) plans or any traditional IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). This will minimize the number of online logins you need to remember (because they should all be different!) and statements that you will need to monitor.
Managing your finances online can simplify your time and energy, and it’s doable even if you’re not super comfortable with computers.
4. Use Direct Deposit. If you are still receiving a paycheck or stipend and spending time waiting for it to come in the mail, you might as well admit that you’re also getting in your car with stone wheels and using your feet to peddle all the way to the bank to deposit it. Why waste all that time, energy, and gas if you could have it sent directly to an account of your choosing? It’s typically easy to switch over to direct deposit with a simple phone call to the payroll department or a visit with HR.
5. Go Paperless whenever possible. Most credit card companies allow you to switch to paperless with a relatively painless phone call, or even a click of a button, which will allow you to set up your chosen billing and payment date. It often includes email reminders as well, because we all can get forgetful from time to time.
Nothing is easier than doing nothing, right? Most financial institutions offer various options for automating the payment of bills, and experts recommend taking advantage of this option if you have a consistent income. Who wants to worry if they’ve mailed a bill payment on time while sitting on a beach? Having bill payments automatically deducted from an account is a great way to streamline your finances and have more room for fun—and maybe daiquiris.
6. Once you go fully digital, automating your bills is the next easy logical step. You can set it up so that all of your recurring bills are automatically paid from the bank account of your choosing. This is possible for everything from your credit card bills to your mortgage and utilities. When you set this up (which is usually done online, but most banks would be happy to help you out), you can choose what days the payment gets pulled. It might be wise to set them all on the first or 15th of the month, just to keep things simple.
7. Once you’ve consolidated and set up automatic payments, the last thing you need to do to streamline your finances is to get it all in order. Experts recommend saving online account login pages in a Favorites folder in your Web browser. This will make it even easier to monitor your accounts, and the more you manage to consolidate the fewer pages you will have.
8. Finally, you need a way to remember all the login and password information you have created. While some rely on writing these down by hand (my mom is fond of the “back of the envelope” method) experts do NOT recommend that, as these things are easily lost. You have a few options. You could simply keep a file on your personal computer and add password protection. Or, if you prefer to use your phone we recommend you try one of the apps made for this purpose, as they have extra layers of encryption in case of hacking. We did a quick google search and some of the ones that were highly recommended include NordPass, Keeper, and Roboform, to name a few. (Other top 10 apps can be found here.)