How to organize your finances

If it makes you mad when you realize you’ve overlooked a credit card payment and you end up paying a past due fee, or when you accidentally overrun your checking account overdraft, then it’s high time to get organized and improve your financial situation. That is not as difficult or tedious as you might think – once you have set up a system, you may even find you learn to enjoy the few minutes per month you need to spend to take stock of how your money is being better managed. You’ll also enjoy the savings you make from not paying unnecessary late fees. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Your lifestyle

Let’s get the bad news out of the way and start with some cautionary advice – try your best to avoid impulse purchases, whether you’re visiting your favorite store or shopping online. That’s because just one weak moment means you can blow your budget right out of the water. The good news, on the other hand, is that if your impulse buy is affordable within youravailable allocation for extras, then you don’t have to worryabout overspending as long as everything else is also within budget.

Your system

The first thing you need to do is sort out how you are going to plan and record your monthly bills. In fact, a simple spreadsheet will suffice if your income and expenses are relatively regular and therefore predictable. You can set up a monthly record of your salary plus any other income on the one hand, and your outgoings for rent or mortgage, utilities, food and other regular costs on the other. You may have to spend a little time recording actual amounts, say for a couple of weeks until you get to the stage where you’re confident that your forecasts will be accurate. If you’re new to spreadsheets, there are some very good,free templates than will help you design your budget headings.

Your regular outgoings

Most people know how much they can expect to pay for their property every month, whether you’re repaying a mortgage or paying rent. Other utilities are also pretty straightforward when it comes to planning a domestic budget. Some costs may change with the seasons for instance;however you can always make allowances based on experience. Remember if an energy company notifies you of a price rise you should note the actionable date and adjust your budget planner accordingly from that time onwards. Food and clothing are ongoing costs unless you have a reason to change your buying habits. In accounting circles, this kind of expenditure is referred to as ‘fixed costs.’

Your extras

Generally, the most difficult financial spend to determine comprises thoseextra items that may be anything from money spent on having a party for a family occasion, buying someone a gift or treating yourself to something special. These variable costs can be tricky to plan for unless you set yourself a total budget figure that is available for any, some or all of them. For example, let’s say you love to regularly choose a lucky number from the new lotto resource site, looking forward to the day when you hit the jackpot! As long as you’re working within your affordable budget for extras, so you don’t overspend that shouldn’t be a problem. However, if in the same month you’re also planning to enjoy a night out, go to the movies and buy a new outfit for a wedding, you could get into financial trouble and overextend your budget. The key action to take is to pick and choose which extras you desire the most and take the decision to leave the others until the following month or beyond.

Your payment options

Finally, there are many ways you can save money day to day, which leaves more dollars available for those little treats. Start by paying your bills using automatic payments, and always check any paper statements that arrive to avoid paying the same bill twice. Keep a checklist handy of monthly bills you’re expecting to pay – if something doesn’t show up, whether by mail or email, don’t ignore it. Instead, chase it down until you are certain your payments are up to date. Vary your treats and try a barbecue or a picnic date occasionally instead of eating out: it’s possible to enjoy different experiences and save money at the same time.