How Women Become Financially Organized

by financialmom on March 12, 2010

in Investing, Money, Organization

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I’m feeling the urge to clean something today ( I assure you this does not happen too often, and whenever it does, my husband says, “Are we having a party?”). Must be that it’s a whopping 45 degrees here in Wisconsin, and the snow is melting  (we won’t mention the pea soup fog that allows you to see maybe a small city block out of my office window).   At this time of winter, anything is better than snow, ice, and 15 degrees.

Anyway, spring is on the way, and if you haven’t had the urge yet to get financially organized this year, right now would be an excellent time to get started.

Being Organized = Saving Money

At this point you are probably wondering what getting organized has to do with money or investing.  The truth is being organized  has a lot to do with it. Not being organized can cost you a lot of money, being organized will definitely save you money, and maybe even save your retirement account.   The truth is we don’t want to think about getting our finances organized, since we have so much disorder in the rest of our lives.

Here are some ideas on how to get started:

Eating Out

Going out to eat too often is one of the leading causes of debt.  Why do we go out to eat?   There are lots of reasons, and the first one is time and convenience. I freely admit to being a poor advance meal planner.  If I am working late and don’t want to make supper, and the hubby doesn’t either, and we are both really hungry and can’t wait much longer to eat, out we go.

Or maybe the grocery shopping didn’t get done when it should have, and there’s no appealing choices for dinner in the house.   Or maybe we are a little too social, and it always involves eating out.  Or maybe the kitchen is such a disaster that no one wants to cook in it.   Get organized with your meals, and it will save you lots of money.

The Mail Pile

Does the picture on this post look like your mail pile?   Are you avoiding your bills by not opening them? It won’t make the charges go away, and will likely lead to you paying late fees.  How’s it going with getting your taxes done – have you opened all those W2 and 1099 statements you received in the mail?  You only have another month!  How about the notices the libary is sending you because you have overdue books?  More fines!

I have had people confess to me (not clients!) that they stopped opening their investment statements after October 2008, since they didn’t want to see what amount their accounts had dropped to. No idea whether they may need to make some changes in their investments!  I also have had many people say to me, “I’ll come in and see you, as soon as I get my stuff (financial papers) together.”  Of course this never seems to happen.

Understand that avoidance is a choice, and not a good one for your financial health. If you are overwhelmed by your mail pile, start this weekend by just opening it all, and sorting it.  Make it a policy to open your mail every day no matter what.  You will feel you have accomplished something wonderful!

Bigger House

Love this one.  Some people think they need to buy a larger house because they are running out of room in their existing home. Not necessarily true – it’s more likely they just need to rid of a bunch of stuff they will never use anyway.

Your house will probably be the biggest expense you will have in your lifetime. Don’t stick yourself with a huge mortgage debt you can’t really afford just to have a bigger house to hold all your stuff.  Have a yard sale, or donate a bunch of  your stuff to charity.  As Necy says on Clean House, get yourself out of that hot mess!   The relief will be amazing.

Become a Picker-Upper

I know it sounds kind of hokey, but make your home a comfortable and calm place to be by becoming a picker-upper. Right now my children are howling with laughter reading this (3 rowdy boys in 6 years), and this is easy for me to say now that they are all grown and in college.

When we let our stuff get out of control (like toys, mail, newspapers, homework, sports equipment, clothing - everywhere), we feel out of control in general.  Then thinking about getting our financial life in order becomes an overwhelming task.

Pick up the stuff routinely, and make your family become picker-uppers too.  Life will be so much more restful.  Don’t beat yourself up if you have young children, and this seems like an impossible task.  A little goes a long way.

Okay, Then What?

Hopefully now you are ready to think about organizing rest of your finances. You have opened your mail pile, and sorted it.  You made the grocery list, and sent your husband shopping icon smile How Women Become Financially Organized .  You paid the bills before you were charged late fees.  You called the accountant and set the appointment for your taxes.  You maybe even started cleaning out the attic or basement (now my children are really cheering)!  The house is picked up (sort of).

Now take a look at all those bank statements and investment statements you have been avoiding.  Starting with the oldest statements, look at the summaries.  If anything looks unusual, take notes and investigate further.  Carefully go over the most recent statements, to get a good idea of what is happening in your accounts right now.   Put together some file folders or binders so the statements have a place to go right away.

If you find anything that seems out of order, and you can’t figure out why, ask questions!  Call your bank or financial advisor, and get some answers – that is what you pay them for.  Maybe you need to make some changes!

And when you receive your statements from now on, open them immediately, and check them out right away, before you have a whole pile of statements to deal with.

There you go – don’t you feel much better?

New Profile Pic 2599R How Women Become Financially OrganizedPamela Otten is CEO of Pamela Otten LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. She loves to work with women business owners and entrepreneurs, and women in transition due to job change, death, or divorce. Pamela will help you set and reach your financial goals, educate you to understand your investments, and teach you how to do more charitable giving. Pamela is a Qualified Kingdom Advisor (www.kingdomadvisors.org), trained and committed to integrating biblical principles with her investment advice.

cc smallest How Women Become Financially OrganizedPhoto Credit -miss karen

Financial Planning, Investment Advice, and Investment Management provided through Pamela Otten LLC, Registered Investment Advisor.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Golda Smith May 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Hi Pamela,
I pride myself on my organizational skills. I try to go as paperless as possible, what are your thoughts on that? I also love paying my bills online. What are you favorite tools for organizing and managing your paperwork?

Golda
Golda Smith´s last [type] ..41 Suggestions For Fabulous Blog Content For Your Network Marketing Success Blog

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financialmom May 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Golda,
Thanks for your comment! I agree going paperless as much as possible is the way to go, as long as you still keep track of what’s going on in your accounts. I pay most of my bills online. For organizing papers, I prefer hanging files/file folders. Many people like to use expandable folders. The key is to open your mail right away, and put your papers where you can find them when you need to!

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