CNN Money published in May of 2015 that overdraft fees at just the nation’s three largest banks topped one billion dollars in just the first three months of the year. Late fees, double charges, and other financial mishaps can eat even more of your budget. Keeping track of the family finances can be difficult and time consuming, but there are strategies you can employ to make the process easier while avoiding fees and excessive interest.
Take Advantage of Online Bill Pay
If you’re consistently wondering why your car payment hasn’t been cashed, or if you forgot to pay the mortgage, online bill payments are usually free through your bank and can help you get rid of these issues. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can set up automatic payments or one-time payments, review your payment history, and even view your statements. This service saves you postage, frustration, and time. Don’t forget to use other online tools like credit and mortgage calculators. Places like Sente even have mortgage brokers in Austin available to talk to, and tools to check your home loan status online.
Handle Paper Mail Effectively
If you’re the type of person who piles all the mail on the kitchen table and scrambles to find bills among the fray, you need to set up an organizational system that works for you. You may want to grab an inexpensive accordion folder to tuck mail in as soon as you bring it inside, or you may decide to buy a mail organizer that hangs on the wall. Whatever you do, set up a system that works for you. Don’t forget to toss out the junk mail right away, as it just adds to the clutter.
Streamline Discretionary Spending
Logging on to your bank account and being confronted with a long list of small purchases every day can turn simple bookkeeping into a chore. If members of your family are amenable, it will streamline your statements if everyone withdraws their discretionary money after each paycheck. Not only does using cash curb impulse spending, it will also make keeping track of your budget much easier.
Keep a Master File
You can use a spreadsheet, an online app, or even a piece of paper to create a master list of all of your accounts. This is especially helpful if you have multiple retirement accounts, bank at several institutions, or run a side business. Make a list of everything you need to check on a monthly basis to ensure you’re on top of all your accounts.
Organizing your finances may take time to set up, but you will save time, effort, and money in the long run by handling it now. By implementing these strategies, you can feel confident in your personal financial plan and leave nothing overlooked.