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3 Ways That You Can Simplify Your Financial Life

By Mark Riddix

Life is difficult enough without having your finances complicate things. Too many people spend sleepless nights worried about their finances. Your financial life should be simple enough that you can keep track of your incoming and outgoing bills without breaking a sweat. All you have to do is make a few changes and you can streamline your current process.

Here are 3 tips to get you started on simplifying your financial life:

1. Sign up for paperless billing.

You can reduce the clutter around your house and save yourself some money by eliminating paper bills. Paper bills are so “90′s.” You can get your bank, credit card company, cable television provider, cell phone company, and insurance company to send you electronic bills. You can view all of your statements online and print them off if you ever need a hard copy. You may not even be aware that a company is charging you money for receiving a paper statement. They normally slip that in the fine print. You could be paying anywhere from $2 to $10 for the privilege of receiving a bill via snail mail. Plus it will drastically cut down on your junk mail.

2. Automate your payments.

Do you always pay your bills at the last minute and sometimes get hit with a late fee? Are you always rushing to mail off payments at the last minute? Take the guess work out of remembering your due dates by scheduling payments. Scheduling automatic payments is an easy way to make sure that your mortgage, automobile, and credit card payments arrive on time. Most banks offer online Bill Pay. This service sends money out of your bank account to any billing company or creditor. If the company you want to send payments to is set up within the bank’s system, the bank will simply transfer the money electronically when you use online bill pay. If not, then your bank will print a check for you and mail it to the recipient.

Note: Automatic payments does not mean you should stop looking at your bills altogether. There is always the chance for error so you should consistently be checking your bills to make sure the correct charges are being made to your account. Even if you’ve already paid the bill and later find out there was an error, you can usually just call up and get the credit back to your account.

3. Close old accounts.

Do you have a savings account with just a few dollars that you never use? Do you have too many checking and savings accounts to keep much track of? Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate! Consolidate your finances. Save yourself the headache and close down your old accounts. Maybe you have old mutual funds that have very low amounts of money in them. Pick the best 2 or 3 funds and roll the money into those funds. Consolidate your retirement accounts. There is no point in having 4 different retirement accounts that you have to keep up with. While you may not be able to combine an IRA and a 401(k); you can combine two similar plans. Just be sure to check for any applicable fees or taxes before completing this step.

These are only 3 of the numerous ways in which you can simplify your financial life. This is a great way to begin the proces of getting organized and decreasing the stress caused by your finances.

Do you know of any other ways to simplify your financial life?

(Photo credit: quaziefoto)

Mark Riddix
Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, Your Financial Playbook.

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  • David Bibby

    All the of the above steps will simplify your life and require very little effort.

    Habits are hard to break… once you automate your billing…you MUST write those items into your check register when you see the paperless statement come out the week before.

    You don’t want your debit card declined at a restaurant because you forgot that the electric bill was coming out of checking today.

    Also.. read those bills. If the amount is higher.. don’t just assume it’s normal.. find out WHY.

    • http://buylikebuffett.com/ Mark Riddix

      Good points!

  • http://frugalzeitgeist.com Forest

    I absolutely agree about the streamlining. If you need different posts many banks offer that now so it still feels like you have multiple accounts but it is all in one place.

    • http://buylikebuffett.com/ Mark Riddix

      True and sites like the Mint.com are helpful too.

  • Brian

    Another idea is to arrange to have all your bills come due at the same time of the month. That way you can take care of all of them at once.

    • http://buylikebuffett.com/ Mark Riddix

      That could be a bit overwhelming to have all of your bills due on the same date.

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