The first step to the ideal financial life is to get organized. Some people are naturally organized, the rest of us have to learn how to do it. Create your personal space to deal with finances.
You need a place to keep your unpaid bills and household receipts, a filing system to keep the paid ones you cannot trash yet and other household files, and some stationery supplies –pens, paper, envelopes, stamps, a calculator- at hand.
You can choose the filing system that suits you better:
- A traditional filing cabinet with hanging folders is one option.
- A second system would be a four-drawer organizer –there are cheap plastic models- or make it a six-drawer and you can keep envelopes, stamps, pens and calculator on the top two.
- Round ring binders have the advantage to hold papers in perfect order. Use a hole puncher and store them in reverse date order, or, if you want to preserve the integrity of the document, you can use a plastic sleeves with holes. In the last case, you will need shelves or a closed cabinet to keep your binders.
Be open-minded: You can use more than one filing system, depending on how you work better and the amount and sort of papers to file. However, the way to succeed it to start simple –maybe the drawer organizer- and change or upgrade the system as your needs develop.
You need a series of files that can hold paid and unpaid bills, warranties, stock purchases and sale confirmations, account statements –bank, insurance or others- and any other document or records worth keeping.
Once you have sorted your filing system. Go for your stationery supplies.
Make a list: pens, pencils, paper, paper clips, letter size envelopes, stamps, paper punch, letter opener, stapler, stapler remover, calculator, and a calendar.
Keep all stationery supplies in a couple of drawers close to where you work and separate from the general ones, so you don’t need to waste time chasing a pen or the calculator when you have time for bills or investments. Supplies are a small money investment that pays back big in time and peace of mind. Of course, do not let the kids touch them or you will not have a pen when you need it. Children are notoriously bad at putting things back where they belong.
You will need a place to work, but you surely already have a table and chair. We will consider technology later.
Once you have organized your space for finances, to keep track of bills and pay them on time will be straightforward. What is more, you will also find easier to stroll there to check your investments, compare interest rates and generally, take care of your money.