There are many financial obligations that can clutter up your financial life. From the junk mail pushing the latest credit card offer to the checks you write to pay bills, the financial chaos can start to weigh you down.
A piece of personal finance advice: To get back on track, you may want to begin by decluttering your finances. In doing so, you may find that you also declutter your life. Once you begin the organization process, you will be amazed (and pleased) at how much more you can accomplish—and how fulfilling your life is.
If you want to reduce the clutter associated with your finances, here are a few money management tips that can help you regain some control:
Switch to paperless statements. Instead of receiving financial statements in the mail, opt for the electronic versions. It’s usually possible to receive the statements from bank accounts, investments and insurance policies electronically. You can save PDF versions to an encrypted folder on your computer.
Enroll in online bill pay. I pay almost all of my bills online. It’s fast and easy, and it doesn’t require writing checks or remembering to put envelopes in the mail. Even better is the fact that I have many of my bills automatically withdrawn from my account each month. You should still check in periodically to makes sure that the right amounts are deducted, but you don’t need to wade through the paperwork.
Invest in personal finance software. It’s much easier to track your income and expenses when you get help from software. There are automatic programs that keep track for you by linking to your accounts, or you can enter the information manually. Personal finance software can also make it easier to reconcile your accounts each month.
Remove yourself from marketing lists. Just as there’s a Do Not Call Registry so you can stop unwanted phone calls, it’s also possible to have your name removed from direct mail marketing lists. While there’s no way to completely get rid of this type of mail, you can go to sites like OptOutPrescreen.com and DMAchoice.org to be taken off many lists. The tidal wave of junk mail will slow to a trickle.
Stop the clutter before it starts. Before you buy something, think about why you want it. What are your motivations? Will it really improve your life? If you don’t need it or really want it, don’t buy it. You’ll reduce your financial stress and save money while also keeping clutter from crowding your home.
Sell or donate things you don’t use. This year, my husband and I are on track to garner a tax deduction of a little more than $3,000 on goods donated. You can sell your extra things, too, for cold hard cash now. Both options give you some financial freedom—not to mention a little more space.
After you finish decluttering your finances and your life, you’ll have more time to focus on the things that are most important to you. And you’ll be happier for it.
Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the co-author of Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community, and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.