I know managing money is tough. It’s a never-ending process (or at least it’s not so long as you have a few dollars and cents to your name). That can make managing money overwhelming and feel like a huge mountain you must climb. So I wanted to share just a few ways to help make managing your money easier and a whole lot simpler! So let’s talk about ways you can optimize your finances TODAY! You’ll be so happy that you did these things.
1. Organize all of your accounts in one place
If you’ve taken my advice about Sinking Funds, you probably have a few different checking and savings accounts. Not to mention a few investment accounts. You may even have some debts, whether they’re credit cards or loans. Maybe you’ve even got a HSA or FSA in there too! I’ve been practicing what I call a “Money Minute” for years. I make this easy on myself by keeping all of my accounts somewhere easy to see.
Now, you know that I don’t have all my accounts at one bank. We have a few different banks we use but instead of logging in and checking a million different bank accounts, I log in to Personal Capital and check all of our accounts right there! No need to log in to other banks (unless I find an error and need to do some digging). Personal Capital is free to use and will help you keep an up-to-date picture of your entire financial portfolio.
2. Try the Quick-Start Budget
If you’ve read my book, you know all about this super quick-to-implement budgeting system. It doesn’t forecast anything. Instead, you use your real dollars – the ones you currently have sitting in your checking account. Then you repeat the process every time you get paid. Instead of guessing what your grocery budget should be or trying to fit it in some percentage model some guru came up with – you’ll know exactly how much you have available to spend on groceries until your next pay period.
So if you’ve been struggling to create and stick to a budget, try to budget with the money currently sitting in your checking account. Subtract out the upcoming bills that money has to pay and anything else it needs to pay for until your next payday. Repeat this process the moment you get paid (seriously, don’t wait – that money will slip right through your fingers! Give it a job to do).
3. Open a high-yield savings account
I know I sound like a broken record here, but anything worth doing is worth repeating. If you don’t already have your Emergency Fund and Sinking Funds set up in a high-yield savings account, you need to! No, your money isn’t going to earn the kind of compounding interest it would earn sitting in the stock market but with a high-yield savings account it will earn money while it’s sitting there being your safety net or while you’re saving up for that specific need (like Christmas or a bathroom remodel).
Added benefit? These high-yield savings accounts are typically only offered at online banks. Meaning it helps keep the money a little more “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” than keeping it at the same bank your main checking account is located at.
I love CIT Bank and it’s who we use for our Emergency Fund and several of our Sinking Funds. It has one of the highest interest rates out there and no crazy hoops to jump through to get it.
4. Open or Move an Investment Account
Have an old 401(k) from a job you left ages ago that you never did anything with? Well, guess what? It’s time. Time to roll that 401(k) into your current 401(k) or a Traditional IRA. This is not nearly as complicated as it seems. You just need to:
- Confirm where your old 401(k) is (which may mean you need to contact your previous employer’s HR department).
- Confirm the account number(s) of your old account (and the name on it in case if it’s different than your current name).
- If your new employer has a current 401(k), contact HR and ask how you can roll over your old 401(k). They’ll walk you through the process.
- If you don’t have a current 401(k) open up a Traditional IRA (not a Roth IRA unless your 401(k) was a Roth 401(k)). Then contact that brokerage firm you opened the account with and ask them how to roll over your old 401(k).
Now, if you don’t have an Investment Account set up – then today’s the day to do it!! If your employer offers a 401(k) or other investment options, contact your HR department for more information and look into opening an account. Make sure to ask if they have an employer match – this is part of your compensation package, so take advantage of it! If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) then open up a Roth IRA (if you’re eligible) and start working on contributing the max of $6,000 per year. I highly recommend the .pdf workbook; Investing Made Simple. It has been the BEST hands-on book that I’ve read so far in terms of investing and is what I used to help me understand how to buy and trade Mutual Funds in my Roth IRA.
5. Check Your Credit
When’s the last time you looked at your full credit report? No, I’m not talking about your credit score. I’m talking about your full report as it appears on all three Credit Bureaus. My family is 100% debt-free but we still pay very close attention to our credit reports because fraud and errors do happen (and I’m a victim of identity theft so I know firsthand). Now, don’t get me wrong, keeping eyes on your credit score is important too, but you need to be at least checking in on your credit report once a year. You can do it for free from annualcreditreport.com. Just make sure to pull from all three Bureaus. They all can have something different, so you want to ensure they’re accurate.
Also, if you don’t already monitor your credit to get notified of when it’s been pulled, you can do that for FREE! We use Credit Karma to monitor our credit and check in on our credit scores. They alert us any time our credit has been pulled (remember, your credit gets pulled even when you sign up for a new utility provider, so your credit is important).
Alright, friend! What Money Moves have you made this week? Hopefully, the five tips above will help you if you still need to make some money moves this week.
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