The gift of financial peace of mind is priceless. And it all starts with organization. Instead of waking up in the middle of the night worried about money and bills, wouldn’t it be amazing to feel in control of your finances?
The first step in getting to your goal is to get organized. And this is the perfect time to get started on that project. If you’re willing to take the first step by using technology, you’re a step ahead of the game. If you want it all on paper, I’ll also introduce you to a very useful way to avoid your computer and still control your finances!
Quicken, the financial planning and data tracking program, remains the standard of excellence for tracking all your spending, saving, investing and budgeting. But it sits on your desktop computer, not as useful having your information instantly and securely on your smart phone.
The Mint app, which pioneered the smartphone financial app, is shutting down. It was free, but bombarded users with offers for credit cards or refinancing. There are several alternatives, including YNAB (You Need a Budget), Origin, and Monarch Money, each with interesting features.
But if you want to get started right now, my choice is the Simplifi app by Quicken (available at www.Quicken.com/Simplifi). It costs only $2 a month under the year-end special offer ($4 regularly). Mint users can easily import their data into Simplifi. Or you can simply start fresh, even if you’re a non-techie.
Your first step is to open an “account” using your credit card to pay for the first year. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to go forward there’s a 30-day refund, and we are talking about $2/month to change your life!
Simplifi does all the work of securely linking all your bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts. That’s the first step to gaining power over your money. You can track all your spending including credit card purchases, either using their categories or creating your own. It will help you plan your cash flow, reminding you of upcoming recurring bills. And yes, it will help you budget, showing where you’re overspending.
Simplifi also has sophisticated investment tracking, giving your transaction history, internal rate of return, and investment analysis across your retirement and non-retirement accounts.
It allows spouses to keep some accounts separately password protected, such as personal credit cards or trading activities! It even helps you track refunds for online shopping and cancel subscriptions you no longer use.
Simplifi offers extensive support both by chat and telephone – allaying fears that you’ll make a mistake along the way. So there go your excuses for finally setting up a system that will empower you to control your money.
The Budget Kit
Not everyone “trusts” technology. But everyone needs financial organization. The Budget Kit by Judy Lawrence (Amazon, $17.99, 6th edition) has stood the test of time in helping people track and plan for financial expenditures. It gives you more than just pages of forms to fill in the blanks. It explains how to approach these tasks, whether monthly or annual, and adjust your plans to avoid debt.
Whether you’re a young beginner or a senior who must suddenly live on a fixed income while fighting rising prices, this oversize book will give you a sense of organization and relief.
MoneySavvy Piggy Bank
Proving that it’s never too early to start teaching financial organization, this multi-chambered clear plastic piggy bank is divided into four sections: Save, Spend, Donate, and Invest. What a perfect time to start teaching financial decision-making and organization. The MoneySavvy Piggy Bank is available in four different colors (so one for each young child) on Amazon for $27.99. (And please avoid the nearby promos for a kids electronic ATM toy that spits out money, a very bad starter lesson!)
Personal Financial Organizer
Finally, do print out my FREE four-page Personal Financial Organizer form found at TerrySavage.com. It gives you a chance to organize all your credit card account information, your passwords for online accounts, and lists the location of all important documents, from estate plan to cemetery deed, giving you a roadmap to financial organization and pointing out the critical things you’ve left undone.
Give yourself or someone you love the gift of financial organization. It’s priceless. And that’s The Savage Truth!