10 Strategies to Simplify Your Financial Life
May 11, 2017
10 Strategies to Simplify Your Financial Life
With over 20 years of financial planning experience, I know exactly how complicated an individual’s financial life can be. It can be dangerously easy to get lost in the complexities of account types, investment options, and tax rules. Believe it or not being disorganized in your financial life can hold you back from building your wealth. Today, I’ll give you some sound strategies for simplifying your financial life so you can get back on track:
- Create a financial plan to give you direction.
- The right plan should tell you where you need to be at various stages of your financial life, almost like check points in a race. More importantly, the plan will lay out goals you need to achieve. It may help to buy a physical calendar to write these goals on and add reminders to your phone calendars.
- Divide Your Asset Buckets
- One helpful strategy is to develop asset buckets as follows:
- Emergency cash bucket.
- Conservative risk bucket.
- Moderate risk bucket.
- Aggressive risk bucket.
- List Your Liabilities
- Separate your short term and long term liabilities.
- Open separate checking accounts. One for your monthly bills and one for your larger expenses(auto and home insurance, property taxes, income taxes).
- Understand Your Responsibilities
- If you are married or have a significant other, assign financial responsibilities. One should pay the bills, the other monitor the family investments. Decide who will keep track of taxes, receipts, and statements. Create a filing system for your important documents in the house so you know exactly where they are at all times.
- Use The “Touch It Once,” Record-Keeping System
- Along with developing a well-kept filing system at home, set up three trays for mail to keep records. One is incoming mail, the second reading materials; the third is “bills to pay.” This will help give you a sense of urgency with certain documents.
- Organize Your Home Office
- Simply put: get rid of the clutter! Now that you have a well-developed filing system and mail keeping system, you can organize all the old piles of paper sitting around. It’s okay to throw out scratch paper and other pieces you don’t need.
- Review Your Investments
- With new features in your smartphone, tablet, or computer, scheduling reminders for yourself is very simple. It is wise to use this function to set yourself a reminder once a month (or however often you’d like) to check your investments. If you have written your financial goals on a calendar you can track your progress towards these goals when you check up on your investments. Set a date, time, and most importantly an alarm to review your statements.
- Generate Your Own Statements
- Reading financial statements from your bank or investment firm can be tricky if you don’t understand them. I must preface this tip with a piece of advice: do some research independently or spend time with your advisor’s team learning how to properly read your financial statement. I also recommend you create your own financial statements. These should include a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet. If you’re unsure how to do so, visit www.investopedia.com to learn these terms and check out some helpful tutorials on the internet. Update the numbers monthly and track your financial progress each month.
- Meet with Your Spouse
- During this meeting, review your financial life, goals and progress. Openly review your spending habits and debts in a way which encourages discussion rather than conflict. This can be a huge point of contention for many families, so if necessary consult a professional. If you are on top of regular conversations about your goals and finances there is a much lower chance of conflict or failure. This encourages healthy communication and keeps you both on track together.
- Meet with Your CPA Quarterly
- Meet with the accountant and review your current tax situation. Make any necessary changes WELL BEFORE the next tax year. So many individuals put off this necessary part of financial planning. It is essential to be proactive with your tax planning so you don’t get yourself in a bind every Spring. Save yourself stress and schedule these meetings in advance. You can relieve your accountant of some stress too–create a deadline to have your tax information ready to go for your CPA by February 15th.
The Bottom Line: Organizing any part of your life can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you have a million other things going on. When you do set aside the time to (and you should,) you will see other aspects of your life improve. Simplifying your financial life can literally help you find more time in the day, achieve peace of mind, and become more professional. Follow the tips above and you are sure to live a more simple life.
Jon Sanchez is a registered representative offering securities and advisory services through Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. OSJ Branch: 12671 High Bluff Drive Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92130. Sanchez Wealth Management, LLC and IFG are not affiliated entities. CA Insurance Lic. #0772626.