4 Secrets to Simplify Your Finances

4 Secrets to Simplify Your Finances

Everyone wants control over their finances—easier said than done! Between work, family and other obligations, finding the time to manage your money is tough. To make your job easier, here are four secrets to simplify your finances.

Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate!

Still have that old 401(k) from your first job out of college? Juggling multiple banking relationships for your car loan, your mortgage, and your local credit union? Hold more credit cards than you’d ever use? If you have multiple bank, credit card or retirement accounts, think about consolidating to one or a couple of relationships. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it can keep you from forgetting a smaller account or credit card loan.

If you can’t consolidate, a good step is creating your own personal financial statement. List every asset (such as bank account, individual stock, insurance policy, and brokerage account) as well as every liability (such as mortgage, credit cards, or a loan from your uncle Fred). This personal Balance Sheet gives you a bird’s eye view of your current financial standing and can pinpoint any possible gaps.

For Ibis clients, we highly recommend using the Nest tool available through our website. The Nest allows you to aggregate all of your financial accounts in one secure online location. You can also manually add other assets, such as insurance policies, physical gold or jewelry, or an “IOU” from your nephew’s start-up. Contact our office today to get started on the Nest.

Clean out your storage

Do you have boxes of old financial statements gathering dust in your garage or study? You most likely are keeping much more than you need. Clearing out old files will not only open up space for an extra wine cooler, but it will also help you locate your key important documents as you need them.

How can you know what to toss and what to keep? The Consumer Reports makes the following recommendations [1]:

  • Keep less than a year: Shred ATM, bank deposit, and credit card statements after you’re reconciled them. Toss insurance policy and investment statements once new ones arrive.
  • Keep a year or more: Keep loan documents until the loan is paid off. Hold onto vehicle titles until selling. If not available on your regular statements, keep investment confirmations until you sell the positions to establish your cost basis and holding period.
  • Keep seven years: Supplemental tax records, such as W-2’s and charitable gift receipts.
  • Never toss: Birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, Social Security cards, military discharge papers, defined-benefit plan documents, estate-planning documents (such as your will, trust, or Power of Attorney), life-insurance policies, inventory of your safe-deposit box.

Also, when tossing your old files, make sure to shred or otherwise destroy them. Throwing away financial statements with personal information (including your name, address, date of birth, or Social Security number) exposes you to identity theft.

Another way to declutter is getting rid of excess paper in the mail. Wherever possible, elect e-delivery for statements, proxies, and other mailings.

For your remaining important documents, we recommend storing them in one secure, organized location. This way, you can easily retrieve that old trust agreement or insurance policy terms & conditions as needed. Also, during an emergency, you can quickly locate all of your important files.

For Ibis clients, we also offer the Vault, a secure online storage system through the Nest. Once your documents are uploaded to the Vault, you can easily retrieve them whether at home or on the go. Contact our office today for details or assistance with uploading your files to the Vault.

Automate

In today’s technology-driven world, we have many ways to automate our financial life. Gone are the days of balancing your checkbook each month or keeping track of your weekly pay stubs. Here are a few ways to take advantage of today’s technology and simplify your finances:

  • Pay yourself first: Automate your savings by having a check or ACH payment sent directly to your IRA or taxable brokerage account. Most institutions also offer automatic investments of your deposits. If you have a retirement plan through work, you can often have a portion of your paycheck automatically invested for you.
  • Bill pay: Never make a late payment again! Most banks and credit unions now allow you to deduct reoccurring bills directly from your checking account. You can have the payments scheduled in advance of when your bill comes due to ensure the payment arrives in time.
  • Bank alerts: Another great way to take advantage of automation is through bank alerts. Most institutions offer notifications for a wide variety of transactions, ranging from a low account balance, bounced check, large deposit or withdrawal, or even price changes in your investment holdings. Through the Nest, you can set up email alerts that cover all linked accounts.

Outsource

For more complex situations, you may want to consider getting help for your finances. For busy professionals with a full schedule and not enough time to devote to money management, a financial advisor can provide the investment and financial planning expertise you need to avoid common blind spots. Contact our office today for more details on how we can help simplify your life and give you the financial freedom you deserve.

[1] https://www.consumerreports.org/taxes/how-long-to-keep-tax-documents/

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